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Driving emissions down with telematics

Administrations around the globe have their own views on what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to vehicular emissions. Fleet managers must make sure they are aware of their local regulations (as well as those they may be travelling to) and find ways of complying.

One sure fire way of meeting the most stringent emissions regulations is to implement a programme of best practice fuel consumption. This involves making sure fleet vehicles are using the right fuel for the right job, training drivers in fuel economy strategies, monitoring overall fleet performance and keeping up to date with innovations.

And while compliance is important, fuel efficiency has the added benefit of reducing costs and improving the overall effectiveness of fleet operations.

Telematics systems are the fleet manager’s most important tools in managing fuel use and emissions. They are able to monitor everything from optimal consumption, driving style to time/motion implications, generating insights that managers can translate into positive actions.

Smooth driving

Telematics software doesn’t just monitor how long drivers are on the road. Using accelerometers the system can assess driving style – acceleration, braking and emergency manoeuvres. According to GPS manufacturer, Trapeze[1], poor driving style can increase fuel use by between 5-15%.

Insights into driving style show where improvements can be made. Using a smoother driving style and staying in optimal gear for the conditions has the best fuel economy. An added benefit is that it puts less strain on the vehicle, reducing wear and tear and so reducing maintenance bills.

Beat the queues

Linking telematics systems to GPS and mapping services can allow fleet managers to make real-time route changes.

Historical data in the system lets managers build routes that avoid habitual traffic blackspots but real time information helps drivers divert around spontaneous traffic problems. Automating these decisions also helps make pragmatic decisions quicker, reducing fuel costs and getting drivers where they need to be on time.

Fleet manager instincts are to avoid longer routes but on occasion this may save more time and fuel than a congested but shorter trip. However these conclusions are not obvious without lengthy calculations.

Building good habits

Taking a little extra time to get somewhere goes against the pressing need to get to a destination quickly, which can result in overly-aggressive driving.

Idling time can be a major impact on costs, even short stops to grab a sandwich, read a meter or deliver a package can add up. One hour of cumulative idling can cost the same as up to two hours of actual driving: Trapeze reported that a utility company was wasting as much as $86,000 a month from idling.

Some of that can be avoided by using the mapping functionalities mentioned above but also by encouraging drivers to turn their engines off, even during a brief stop. Turning off the engine would have saved that particular utility company over $500,000 a year.

On-board systems can give drivers and their managers pointers as to precisely when this might be an option, giving everyone the information they need to be a better fleet.

Telematics have been in use in fleets for decades now but their ability to improve fleet efficiencies is growing all the time and these are just a few examples. But however beneficial they are to the business, they must also support drivers. These systems are sometimes viewed suspiciously, there to spy on blameless individuals who feel their employer may be looking for an excuse to discipline them.

Fleet managers should work to make telematics systems inclusive, emphasising the opportunities for training and career advancement that are found in improved driving and economy skills. With that, there is proof that telematics can be good for drivers, good for the environment and good for fleet as a whole.


[1] A Guide to Reducing Fuel Consumption with Vehicle Telematics: How to Select the Right Solution

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