Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

We Drive With Our Brain and Eyes as Opposed to Our Hands and Feet

As a driver, we can begin the process of mentally preparing to drive by doing hazard perception training. We actually drive with our brain and eyes as opposed to our hands and feet. Your brain tells your eyes where to look, your eyes look and see potential hazards and then send a message back to your brain with a required response. Your hands and feet or are then called to duty to protect you. Cognitively, you’re actually doing this before you realize it. What helps immensely is having advanced training to get your brain ready for these hazards before you really need them. Dealing with many possible hazards and the proper responses before you need them is the way to begin a safe driving career.

Hazard perception training, combined with driving on public roads, enhances our ability to not only perceive potential hazards, but gives you options of how to deal with these often hidden hazards. This actually speeds up the process of hazard perception so the driver is better prepared for the real world. Computer and simulator training are often the best methods to get your brain on the same page as experienced drives. This type of training is critical for a new driver to gain experience in thinking like an experienced driver – but in less time.

Even the best athlete with amazing hand-eye coordination can’t deal with potential hazards as quickly as someone who has been trained mentally to do this. For years I’ve had students who did not have hazard perception training and would often have ‘target fixation’ when a hazard appeared. They stared at the hazard and did nothing. I had to intervene and help them out. For the students who did hazard perception training, they would often respond immediately without assistance; just like a seasoned driver.

So, what type of driver would you like driving your vehicle; someone who thinks and responds like an experienced driver or someone who may have ‘target fixation’ and responds late. I know what my answer is; what’s your answer?

 



Eco-driving study from University of Michigan confirms results of similar studies from around the world

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) study on eco-driving found that vehicle maintenance, driver training, and route selection can reduce a vehicles fuel efficiency up to 45%. (Download the study as a pdf.)

Business Fleet magazine brings the news to the thousands of business fleet  managers in the January/February 2012 issue (pages 20, 21) which includes this chart showing the sample scenario where a 36 mpg vehicle may end up delivering less than 20 mpg if every factor considered in the study is included.

While earlier studies from around the world have previously come to similar conclusions, these studies were usually focused on finding inexpensive ways of meeting Kyoto Protocol targets, of which the United States is not a signatory to. (As of December 2011, Canada has opted out of Kyoto as well.)

The fact that American institutions are now conducting and publishing studies on the various positive effects of eco-driving… and that the concepts are working their way into the business fleet management lexicon… is a very positive development in my opinion, and well past due.

So what’s been taking so long, and why are we finally accepting it? Tell me what you think in the comments.

 



The Rise of Fleet Eco-Driving – FedEx Eco-Drives After Disaster in Japan

Originally Posted at FleetBlogs

With the recent announcement from FedEx that they are considering implementing eco-driving training and indicators into their fleet management systems, the world leader in overnight delivery once again leads fleet operators in setting best business practices that improve operational efficiency and safety.

Already known for running a very tight business, FedEx found itself eco-driving earlier this year in Japan after the combination tsunami and nucular disasters disrupted fuel supplies across Japan. If FedEx Japan wanted to continue to make deliveries, they needed to squeeze every kilometer they could from every liter of fuel they had. Given the circumstances, FedEx says eco-driving had become an “operational imperative”.

For Japan, Eco-Driving was not just about a contribution to the environment – it was a necessity. How the couriers used the 5 tips when it counted helped us to be there for our customers who were depending on us more than ever for critical shipments.

FedEx driver Zhang Jingwei (pictured) wrote about his ongoing efforts using eco-driving methods taught by a specially trained instructor from Isuzu. Both Ford and Isuzu have been leading the fleet eco-driving research globally over the past 10 years.

By modifying traditional driving methods according to expert theory, fuel consumption could be significantly reduced by up to 25%. The expert also explained that the reduction of fuel consumption reduced carbon emissions, which helps the environment.

Earlier fleet eco-driving studies done both in Japan and around the globe – geared mostly at reducing greenhouse gas emissions – have indicated that modest changes to driving behavior can reap substantial and tangible rewards in improved fuel mileage, using existing equipment and standard sourced fuel.

At a minimum it seemed any fleet could save from 5% up to 25% or more from their fuel consumption – or in the case of FedEx – get deliveries to those who needed them – by training their drivers to use “eco-driving” techniques. Most studies indicate a 10% improvement is easily achieved, with improvements of 25% or more not uncommon. As a side benefit – the most fuel efficient drivers are also some of the safest drivers, according to one trucking company study of their own internal operations.

A recent announcement from University of California, Riverside of the first large-scale scientific study into eco-driving in the US - funded with help from the Department of Energy to the tune of 1.2 million dollars – will likely confirm the findings of previous studies conducted in Europe, Asia, and around the world.

When logistics giant FedEx considers implementing innovative efficiency techniques, the business community takes notice. Eco-driving techniques aren’t new, or somehow unique, but when applied consistantly across fleets of any size the affect on the bottom line can be substantial. Programs can be developed in-house for almost no cost, or can be outsourced to providers who can quickly get your entire fleet trained.

Last month BrightFleet.com, an industry leader in online risk assessment and mitigating driver training, announced the availability of a fleet focused computer based eco-driver training program that allows fleets of any size to quickly roll out comprehensive eco-driving training to their entire fleet.

“Eco-driving” may have had a slow uptake so far in the US – where we enjoy a relatively inexpensive and plentiful fuel supply, but with the uncertain economy and unpredictable natural disasters that can quickly interrupt fuel supplies regionally or nationally – time may finally be right for these simple and cost-effective methods to become part of the smarter standard business practices that will be adopted by innovate fleet operators for years to come.



Updated: Could cabbies become eco-driving ambassadors?

Source: http://www.businessgreen.com/

Taxi drivers are notorious for being independent thinkers and more than a little opinionated, but now a new study is seeking to harness those qualities and turn cabbies into fuel efficiency ambassadors, even floating the idea of financial incentives to those who promote green policies to their passengers.

A study being published this week by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) is to act as the centrepiece of Shell’s Smarter Cab Drivers project, which is designed to encourage the widespread and long-term adoption of eco-driving across the UK.

Read the whole thing.



Does Eco-Driving make you a safer driver?

Over at EcoModder there is a conversation asking “does hypermiling make you a safer driver“?

Hypermiling is a more extreme form of eco-driving, where the goal is to reduce fuel consumption to the lowest amount possible. Sometimes hypermilers make modifications to more than just their driving habits to accomplish their goals, they modify their cars aerodynamics, re-chip their vehicle computers, or use a variety of add-on technologies or fuel additives to help squeeze every yard from a gallon of fuel.

Sometimes hypermilers have been criticized for advocating certain techniques that do save fuel but may be illegal and dangerous – like rolling through stop-signs, or drafting large trucks. Most hypermilers do not engage in these kinds of techniques, realizing the cost of a ticket or accident is far costlier than any savings in fuel.

Eco-driving is distinct in that drivers do not generally make modifications to their vehicles, and abide by all of the “normal” rules of the road. Both techniques share many similar traits where drivers achieve a high degree of awareness of traffic patterns and timing of lights, as well as efficient acceleration with limited stopping. But hypermiling is generally considered the more extreme of the two, while eco-diving is more of an “every-mans” method for improving fuel mileage.

So, back to safety.

Several private fleet studies show that drivers with generally better fuel mileage rating are also among the safest drivers in large fleets. These same studies show that drivers who have the highest number preventable “incidents” are also drivers with the poorest fuel mileage scores. Most of these studies are done in larger commercial fleets that are understandably reticent to discuss actual accident rates publicly.

So there is a connection between fuel efficiency and safety. According to the current discussion at EcoModder, the same correlation appears to apply to those hypermilers who have commented so far.

What do you think?



Understanding Negligent Entrustment Issues and Your Company-Owned Fleet

Orlando, FL – BrightFleet.com, the premiere hazard perception evaluation and risk mitigation website, has published a white paper “Understanding Negligent Entrustment Issues and Your Company-Owned Fleet,” describing the liability that lies in entrusting employees to drive company vehicles and ways in which fleet managers can work to mitigate the threat of exposure to their company’s financial health and reputation.

The average fleet driver will travel our nations highways at eight to twelve thousand miles more a year than the rest of us, making them more likely to cause, or be involved in, a motor vehicle accident. Companies and their owners who think they’re hiring a well trained, top quality driver, simply by looking at his or her resume, may be held accountable in the event their driver causes an accident that could have been prevented.

“Understanding Negligent Entrustment Issues and Your Company-Owned Fleet” is intended to assist fleet and risk managers and CFOs in understanding the relationship between company and driver and ways in which they can protect their assets – both financial and human.

Read “Understanding Negligent Entrustment Issues and Your Company-Owned Fleet” by clicking here: http://www.brightfleet.com/whitepapers/understanding-negligent-entrustment-issues

Interview requests and live product demonstrations of the BrightFleet.com Hazard Prevention and Evaluation software can be requested by contacting Kathy Kniss, kathy@k2prgroup.com, (626) 429-2723.



BrightFleet Mentioned at Fleet Blogs

Steve Fowler’s new blog Fuel Hardy has a great post about the BrightFleet.com‘s Hazard Perception Evaluation titled:

Are your drivers paying attention? It could be costly!

…I gave BrightFleet a call and was speaking with Michael Bragg who is obviously excited about driver training. He offered and I accepted his challenge and went through a demo of their on-line driver training. I was surprised at how real it all was.You actually “drive” down the street as different real life situations unfold. I found the program to be both fun to do and very enlightening. The fun part is important as it makes you want to do it. As for being enlightened let’s just say it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be…

It was great talking with Steve about BrightFleet and his 360FuelCard programs that help companies reduce their fuel costs while providing an environmental edge.



Incentivizing Drivers to Conserve Fuel – Bob Stanton, Polk County Florida

Bob Stanton is one of the most forward-thinking fleet managers in the country. He runs the Polk County, Florida government fleet, and has been referenced here in Fuelishness! and BrightFleet.com several times for his experience implementing a highly successful eco-driving program in Polk County. Today he gives a insight into his motivations and successful execution of his program in an article published at Government Fleets called “Incentivizing Drivers to Conserve Fuel“.

By only reading industry publications, one might presume fuel conservation success can be achieved by technology alone through the use of alternative fuels, hybrid, or all-electric vehicles. The Clean Air Act of 1990 certainly steered governments in that direction and now, 20 years later, it’s clear that legislation failed to achieve tangible results. Governments at all levels nationwide have collectively invested billions in technology, which at best has yielded marginal fuel conservation success, and at worst, the technology, hardware, and vehicles have been scrapped at enormous cost. A negative return on investment (ROI) is certainly hard to justify for any organization, public or private.

Mr. Stanton makes a great point, that the focus on a technology-based approach to fuel efficient fleets has nearly completely ignored the contributions of the vehicle operator to the safe and efficient use of the vehicle.

…In summer 2008, Polk County went where few other fleets have gone — to its drivers. All studies show the largest single contributor to fuel use and/or conservation is the driver. Polk County decided the quickest route to meaningful fuel conservation was to target driver behavior and modify it where possible.

A three-pronged approach was used to modify driver behavior. First, the maximum travel speed of the County’s on-highway vehicles was limited to 55 mph. An in-house Eco-Driver training program was developed to train, reinforce, and promote driving habits proven to reduce fuel consumption and assure driver buy-in, and the County added an incentive program to allow employees to share monetarily in their own conservation success.

There are numerous studies, from reputable government and industry sources around the word, that have shown a direct relationship to operator performance and fuel efficiency, with additional benefit to driver & general road safety.

As noted above, the driver is the greatest single factor influencing fuel economy. According to Bridgestone’s Real Answers magazine, up to 35 percent of a vehicle’s mpg is directly attributable to the driver.

The County endeavored to modify behind-the-wheel driver behavior by developing an in-house “Eco Driver” training program to educate drivers about the simple driving techniques that result in tangible mpg improvements.

Bob Stanton’s own project has netted Polk County significant benefits in fuel efficiency and accident reductions:

Over the two years since implementation, Polk County achieved the following results:

  • Fuel consumption reduced by 13.4 percent, or 436,000 gallons.
  • Reduced 6.2 million lbs. of carbon.
  • Reduced preventable accidents by 22 percent.
  • Crash damage severity reduced by 35 percent.

These results are irrefutable. The overall hard dollar savings seen by Polk County due to these incentives have exceeded $1.5 million. The cost of the program is minimal. Beyond the $800 decal cost and the one-hour training time, the program has cost the County nothing.

Even the incentive payouts came at little cost. The incentive payouts originated from dollars saved versus dollars spent.

As a result of its success, the Polk County School Board adopted the 55-mph restriction in May 2010 and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is currently studying the program for statewide adoption.

As oil prices continue to rise to pre-economic-collapse prices at the same time austerity measures are being discussed at state and federal levels, eco-driving is a proven method that fleet drivers and average motorists can take immediate action to see real reductions in both fuel consumption and accident rates.



“FuelClinic Fleet Systems” is now BrightFleet.com

BrightFleetWashington DC – Dec. 13th, 2010 – Compendium Software Systems, LLC announced today the release of BrightFleet.com™ http://www.brightfleet.com, marking a change in branding for all products previously available under the FuelClinic Fleet™ Systems brand.

BrightFleet’s™ mission is to provide a globally-available risk identification and mitigation system, all in one easily administered and affordable solution available immediately for fleets of any size and type.

“Our state-of-the-art Hazard Perception Evaluation application is a predictive behavior analysis tool designed to identify a fleet’s high risk drivers based on their ability to identify dangerous situations that happen every day on our roadways”, said Michael Bragg of Compendium Software Systems, the company behind the BrightFleet™ brand.

While BrightFleet™ will focus solely on providing advanced technologies to fleet operators on a global scale, FuelClinic™ http://www.fuelclinic.com will continue to focus on providing motorists fuel efficiency improving eco-driving advice, techniques, and progress-tracking software.

“We love the FuelClinic community, and plan to continue to increase the level of service we provide to the eco-drivers there”, said Bragg. “We also relize that the fleet risk management and mitigation products we offer are a more natural fit under the new BrightFleet™ brand.”

To learn more about BrightFleet™, visit the website at http://www.brightfleet.com



Drive Safer Sunday is November 28, 2010

From: Road Safe America — November 28, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, will be the busiest traffic day of the year. Do what you can to be safe – get plenty of rest, stay alert, buckle up, put away the hand-held devices, and slow down.

Be extra careful around big trucks – leave them plenty of room because they cannot see, maneuver, or stop as easily as you can.

Visit our website, www.roadsafeamerica.org, for more safety tips.



Interesting Video on Behavior Modification Study

As we continue to study the ways that communication can be used to change peoples behavior I’ve come across this video from BDI in London, and thought I’d post it for comment.



Aggressive and timid drivers cause traffic jams, scientists discover

From the Telegraph

Motorists who are too aggressive or too timid in their driving style are the cause of major traffic jams, scientists have discovered.

Researchers say aggressive motorists, who drive too fast and too close to the vehicle in front, or timid motorists, who leave too big a gap, send a “wave of deceleration” backwards down the road until traffic grinds to a stop.

Such behaviour leads to the stop-start traffic jams which infuriate motorists.
Since 2001 the number of cars on Britain’s roads has risen considerably from 24.6 million to 31 million, leading to more traffic jams.
A report earlier this year estimated that by 2025, drivers in Britain could be wasting 656 million hours a year – the equivalent of 75,000 years – sitting in traffic jams.

Such behaviour leads to the stop-start traffic jams which infuriate motorists.Since 2001 the number of cars on Britain’s roads has risen considerably from 24.6 million to 31 million, leading to more traffic jams.A report earlier this year estimated that by 2025, drivers in Britain could be wasting 656 million hours a year – the equivalent of 75,000 years – sitting in traffic jams…

Read the rest… Discuss at IntelliDriveUSA on LinkedIn



City of Sanford’s FuelClinic.com Pilot Program Completes 1st Phase

Sanford, FL – The FuelClinic Fleet System (http://fleet.fuelclinic.compilot program with the City of Sanford, FL has completed it’s first phase, with the collection of driver behavior data from a selection of vehicles from the City’s fleet. The data-logging devices will be returned for analysis and processing using the driver behavior analysis software under development at Compendium Software Systems, LLC.

“The collection part of the first phase is done, and the data collected by the devices will be uploaded to our servers for processing. Based on what we find using our driver behavior analysis software, we’ll make recommendations to the City on ways it can cut it’s yearly fuel usage, helping the City to reduce expenses.” said Michael Bragg of Compendium.

The pilot program is being used to allow the City to evaluate the driver behavior monitoring system, and look for ways to save the City money by cutting it’s fuel usage and reducing risk. The system works by collecting data from the vehicles on-board diagnostic computer, providing the fleet manager a real-world look into how their fleet vehicles are being driven. In this first generation system, the devices are removed from the vehicle and the data is uploaded to a central processing server using a standard USB cable and a bit of software that handles the communications.

Once the data is uploaded, the processing of weeks worth of real world driver behavior data begins. The hub of this system is software that accepts driving data from a variety of devices and sources. It parses the data into a standardized format, and begins to look for trends that indicate inefficient or risky driver behavior. It then compiles reports to allow fleet managers to quickly identify problems within their fleet.

Compendium’s recent channel-partnership with Alert Driving provides clients with access to top-tier online training modules to help mitigate problems with driver behavior or fuel efficiency using proven training tools that are targeted, easy to administer, and affordable.

“Our whole goal is to make fleets of any size safer and more efficient, providing a substantial ROI to clients by getting more out of every gallon of fuel they purchase while at the same time helping reduce accidents and related costs” said Bragg. “We are cherry-picking the best practices and technologies already used in major fleets, and re-packaging them into right-sized systems that any business can afford.”



FuelClinic.com Fleet System adds AlertDriving Web-Based Driver Training and Hazard Perception Evaluation

ORLANDO, Fla., July 6 /PRNewswire/ — Compendium Software Systems, LLC, creators of the FuelClinic.com Fleet System ( http://fleet.fuelclinic.com ), is excited to announce their new channel partnership with Sonic E-Learning Inc., creators of AlertDriving.com.

This partnership will enhance Compendium’s FuelClinic Fleet System by adding a complete predictive behavior analysis and online driver training program to help clients green their fleet and improve driver safety.

“It makes perfect sense to partner with AlertDriving, who have been hugely successful in the larger fleet market,” said Michael Bragg, President of Compendium. “We are cherry-picking the best of the big fleet technologies, combining them with our core DriveMetrics driver-behavior analysis software, and creating a complete system unlike any other currently available to small and medium-sized fleet owners.”

FuelClinic Fleet System is a complete fuel & risk reduction program that monitors real-world driver behavior, reporting problems to managers who can then take action to correct behavior, improving safety and reducing costs, fuel use, CO2 emissions, and collisions.

FuelClinic Fleet System will now encompass true predictive behavior-driver analysis with a program called Hazard Perception Evaluation that is proven to predict driver behavior. It uses a proprietary algorithm to automatically identify individual driver deficiencies, then assign specific training modules to correct identified driver deficiencies that will reduce collisions.

AlertDriving is a complete Risk Identification and Risk Mitigation program that complements the FuelClinic Fleet System to become the most comprehensive fuel and collision reducing program available.

Compendium Software Systems, LLC is a software development firm and current clients of the University of Central Florida’s Business Incubation Program, located in Sanford, Florida. Compendium specializes in advanced information systems for use in driver-behavior analysis.

AlertDriving is a global leader in fleet risk management solutions with a web-based program available to any driver from any computer. Until recently only available to the largest fleets, this new channel partner arrangement with FuelClinic.com Fleet System will help make AlertDriving training solutions affordable and available to fleets of all sizes.



Compendium Software Systems to Provide Fuel Conservation Technology for Trial Use on City of Sanford Vehicles

SANFORD, Fla. (July 12, 2010) — Compendium Software Systems, LLC was recently awarded a contract to install its FuelClinic.com® Fleet System fuel conservation and risk reduction technology on select City of Sanford vehicles on a trial basis.

Michael Bragg, president of Compendium Software Systems, LLC, said the Sanford Economic Development Office played a big role in shaping the agreement.

Compendium Software Systems’ FuelClinic.com® Fleet System closely records real-world driver behavior and provides data analysis and reporting.

“FuelClinic.com® Fleet System provides a fuel efficiency report card for drivers and vehicles that will enable the city’s fleet of vehicles to achieve maximum fuel efficiency while reducing fleet risk,” Bragg explained. “The goal is to show how FuelClinic.com® Fleet System can help the City save money by reducing the fuel consumption of normal fleet operations.”

Bragg said the trial project will be conducted in two phases. Each phase will include data collection and analysis, he said.

Bragg said installation of the monitoring equipment will commence in July.

Compendium Software Systems LLC is a client company of the UCF Business Incubation Program and headquartered at the Incubator on West First Street in downtown Sanford. Compendium specializes in advanced information systems for use in driver behavior analysis.



FuelClinic.com Fleet System Adds AlertDriving Web-Based Driver Training and Hazard Perception Evaluation

ORLANDO, Fla., July 6 /PRNewswire/ — Compendium Software Systems, LLC, creators of the FuelClinic.com Fleet System (http://fleet.fuelclinic.com), is excited to announce their new channel partnership with Sonic E-Learning Inc., creators of AlertDriving.com.

This partnership will enhance Compendium’s FuelClinic Fleet System by adding a complete predictive behavior analysis and online driver training program to help clients green their fleet and improve driver safety.

“It makes perfect sense to partner with AlertDriving, who have been hugely successful in the larger fleet market,” said Michael Bragg, President of Compendium. “We are cherry-picking the best of the big fleet technologies, combining them with our core DriveMetrics driver-behavior analysis software, and creating a complete system unlike any other currently available to small and medium-sized fleet owners.”

FuelClinic Fleet System is a complete fuel & risk reduction program that monitors real-world driver behavior, reporting problems to managers who can then take action to correct behavior, improving safety and reducing costs, fuel use, CO2 emissions, and collisions.

FuelClinic Fleet System will now encompass true predictive behavior-driver analysis with a program called Hazard Perception Evaluation that is proven to predict driver behavior. It uses a proprietary algorithm to automatically identify individual driver deficiencies, then assign specific training modules to correct identified driver deficiencies that will reduce collisions.

AlertDriving is a complete Risk Identification and Risk Mitigation program that complements the FuelClinic Fleet System to become the most comprehensive fuel and collision reducing program available.

Compendium Software Systems, LLC is a software development firm and current clients of the University of Central Florida’s Business Incubation Program, located in Sanford, Florida. Compendium specializes in advanced information systems for use in driver-behavior analysis.

AlertDriving is a global leader in fleet risk management solutions with a web-based program available to any driver from any computer. Until recently only available to the largest fleets, this new channel partner arrangement with FuelClinic.com Fleet System will help make AlertDriving training solutions affordable and available to fleets of all sizes.



5 Top Driving Mistakes that Cause Crashes

GMAC Insurance is one of the largest insurers in the nation and has offices in many different countries around the world. Based on their years of collecting crash data, they offer the following key 5 mistake that lead to accidents most often, along with tips on how to make sure you avoid them yourself.

Source: GMAC Insurance

Multi-tasking While Driving – Driving Tip: When You Turn the Car On, Turn the Gadgets Off. No matter how busy your day is, when you’re on the road, focus only on driving. Catch up on other activities later and you’ll avoid unnecessary accidents.

Following Too Closely – Driving Tip: One Thousand One, One Thousand Two. Leave a two-second cushion between you and the vehicle ahead – it could save your bumper and your life. Make sure to double or triple that time when the weather is bad or the pavement is slick.

Failure to Yield on a Left-Hand Turn – Driving Tip: Check the Flow Before You Go. Look at the street you are turning into to make sure that no vehicles or pedestrians are in your path.

Incorrect Merging – Driving Tip: Yellow is for Yield. Accidents often occur when you are stuck behind a driver who interprets yield as stop. Don’t be the guilty party. Use the ramp as a means for merging into traffic, not causing it.

Backing Up – Driving Tip: Look Over Your Shoulder. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. Don’t rely mirrors alone. Look over your shoulder before backing up.

GMAC Insurance has an online written driving test with questions taken from state test across the country. A report on the 2010 test shows that fully 1 in 5 licensed drivers would not pass a written driving test if taken today.

The 2010 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test released today found that nearly 1 in 5 licensed drivers – roughly 38 million Americans – would not pass a written drivers test exam if taken today. Kansas drivers ranked first in the nation (82.3 percent average score); New York drivers ranked last (70 percent average score).

Take the GMAC online drivers test and see how you score. You can also find state averages for this year, as well as previous years.



“My name is Mike, and I help people save money…”

A few people who know me well have told me about a new Walmart ad that talks about Walmart’s recent work improving efficiency in fleet operations by packing trucks more efficiently and paying more attention to routing, all in an effort to rollback prices for customers.

The funny part (for my friends) is at the end when the driver stands by his truck and says “My name is Mike, and I help people save money…” It’s funny because my name is Mike too, and I’ve been helping people save even more money though better driving habits.

Back to the commercial. I think it’s great, and a sign of the times that the world’s largest retailer, with one of the largest fleets in the world, is spending millions to educate people to the benefits of efficient fleet operations. Fuel prices are on the rise again, and the importance of efficient fleet operations is more important than ever, as our economy continues to recover from it’s recent with no real change to our oil dependency.

I’m only disappointed that Mike doesn’t mention the incredible savings Walmart could be realizing through a comprehensive driver efficiency improvement program that includes eco-driving fundamentals.

Imagine what 5% of their fuel spend must be? With additional computer-based training and strong corporate buy-in, take that 5% number and triple it… that would be some sizable “rollback”. Maybe I should try to get in touch with them.



A first? Texting while driving leads to arrest…

…the driver also had a suspended license, so not exactly arrested only for texting.

Source: Union Leader (New Hampshire)

A Massachusetts man may be the first person in the state to be arrested for texting behind the wheel, which became illegal Jan. 1.

Lt. Gary Fisher said Stephen Judd, 20, of Dracut, Mass., was texting on his phone while traveling down Bridge Street on Monday morning, in plain sight of an officer. Officers later learned Judd was driving with a suspended license, he said…

…”It might be a possible deterrent and put some common sense in the driver’s head,” Drisko said. “Hopefully, it does. It is going to be in the next decade that you might see it be a nationwide federal law, because states all across are popping it in. It’s going to become a national issue.”

…”We’ve got to get the message out that this is a serious highway safety issue,” Adkins said. “It’s hard to enforce. It’s a habit. Kids see their parents doing it, it’s something a lot of teens have been raised on, watching Mom and Dad texting, but the best message is simply hang up and drive.”

The federal government has previously banned texting-while-driving for all federal employees, and in January of this year extended that ban to cover commercial truck and bus drivers.

Last year a study released by VirginiaTech Transportation Institute found that truck drivers who were texting were 23 times more at risk of a “crash or near crash event” than “nondistracted driving.” (Source: SafeTeens.com)

A recently released study (PDF) by the VirginiaTech Transportation Institute found that truck drivers who were texting were 23 times more at risk of a “crash or near crash event” than “nondistracted driving.” As per talking on a cell phone, the same study found no increased risk for truck drivers and 1.3 times the risk for car drivers. There was considerably more risk associated with dialing while driving. The institute’s Richard Hanowski acknowledges that the numbers are likely to be different with car drivers. As reported by CNET’s Jennifer Guevin, the study also found that “texting took a driver’s focus away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds–enough time…to travel the length of a football field at 55 mph.”

Many states have laws already banning texting-while-driving, and the trend seems to be spreading as awareness of the danger spreads.

What do you think about texting-while-driving laws? What about broader distracted driving laws that may impact your use of any gadget that takes your attention from the road? Add you comment here, or join the conversation over at our Facebook page.



The Power of Scale – Why Fuel Efficient Driving Matters in Commercial Fleets

A nice short video from the Environmental Defense Fund demonstrating the power of scale when applied to fuel efficient driving in commercial fleets.



Should eco-driving be part of driver’s education?

As awareness of the benefits of eco-driving habits builds in the US and around the world, there is also a growing interest in incorporating eco-driving techniques in early drivers education courses.

Until recently, professional eco-driving training has been a specialty course provided to already-experienced drivers, often as a work-related program for professional fleet drivers in an effort to reduce company fuel expenses and reduce preventable accidents.

Several studies done in the last 10 years indicate a direct connection between efficient drivers and those drivers with fewer preventable accidents.

One internal study at a major US-based trucking company indicated that their top fuel-efficient drivers were squarely in the top percentile of drivers with the fewest preventable accidents. It was also found that their drivers who routinely drove in an inefficient manner were among those drivers with the greatest number of preventable accidents.

How are eco-drivers safer drivers?

By practicing eco-driving techniques motorists maintain a high level of awareness to traffic patterns and the flow of vehicles around and ahead of the driver, allowing the driver to plan to minimize the loss of momentum while operating their vehicle safely and efficiently.

Eco-driving motorists are encouraged to “de-couple” emotionally from the circumstances of normal traffic, focusing instead on a competition between “themselves and the gas pump” verses jockeying for position with other drivers around them.

By limiting the top-speed and maintaining generous following-distances eco-drivers give themselves extra time to react to unexpected changes, providing additional decision making time and a greater likelihood of maintaining control in evasive maneuvers.

This correlation between efficient driving and safe driving creates an opportunity to apply measurable indicators to driver safety.

In the past an individual driver’s skill and risk was measured by referring to DMV records to count number and severity of traffic citations,  or by referencing insurance records to measure the number and severity of traffic accidents on record. “Defensive driver” insurance discounts are provided to drivers who have had fewer accidents and fewer citation – without any real data to determine if the driver is truly driving in a safe and skilled manner – or has just been lucky.

With the advent of inexpensive on-board driver-behavior data-logging devices (like the CarChip Pro) we can build software systems (like FuelClinic) that are designed to analyse real-world driving behavior based on actual data. With the proper training and monitoring programs in place, this driving data can be processed in near-real-time with timely reporting in an on-going effort to improve both fuel efficiency and safety records.


(Click image to add your vote to this poll)

Several states are currently working to add eco-driving to drivers education, including Michigan and Florida, with RFPs seeking qualified training materials to be added to their existing driver training programs.

What do you think? Should eco-driving techniques be added to the existing driver’s ed program in your state? Comments are welcome below, or join the discussion over at our Facebook Community.



The Distracted Driver: Looking Away From Road Main Factor in Crashes and Near-Misses

From Ford “Driving Skills for Life“:

Independent research based on real-world studies, that’s where drivers are monitored in their own cars rather than in labs, show that looking away from the road is the main factor associated with crashes and near-misses. Another study by NHTSA/Virginia Technology Transportation Institute (VTTI) found that “dialing a handheld device” had a higher risk compared to “just driving,” while “talking/listening on a cell phone” did not statistically differ from risks associated with “just driving.” VTTI summarized their findings by stating that it’s rare that drivers are involved in a crash when their eyes are on the roadway, regardless of any cognitive demand they may be under. Another point to keep in mind is that although there was explosive growth of cell phone subscriptions in the U.S. during the last 15 years, there has been a decline in crash rates which may indicate that drivers choose to engage in tasks when they judge the driving conditions are least demanding.

More than likely this is already apparent to most drivers, but indicates the importance of human-systems integration design in new vehicles so that drivers “know” where their controls and displays are without having to hunt for them.

What impact does this have on add-on gadgets that require the driver to take his/her eyes off of the road to gather information? GPS navigation suckered to your windshield? After-market eco-driving instrumentation or “apps” with charts and graphs indicating how well you are driving?



Eco-Driving Project Results in 13% Fuel Economy Boost for Public Works Department

By Mary Hamel at Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Together Wisconsin Clean Cities, the Milwaukee Department of Public Works, and Veolia Water in Milwaukee embarked on a Fleet Eco-Driving Project to promote eco-driving in southeastern Wisconsin. Their results included a 13-percent boost in fuel economy for the fleets participating in the project.

Funded by a DNR-initiated federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grant, the selected fleets from the City of Milwaukee-Department of Public Works and Veolia Water North America Water-Milwaukee received: classroom instruction, behind-the-wheel training, pre- and post-testing, and a training manual for ongoing use. Milwaukee Area Technical College helped develop and deliver the “Fleet Training on Eco-Driving Project.”

The 13-percent fuel economy improvement is in keeping with the 10–20 percent savings estimated by the U.S. Department of Energy in its seminal Driver Energy Conservation Awareness Training (DECAT) Program, which ran from 1976 through the 1980s. The Fleet Training on Eco-Driving Project is the first comprehensive effort since DECAT to show the many benefits of changing driver behavior, which also include lower maintenance and repair costs, as well as improved road safety.

“Our joint project demonstrates that eco-driving is an everyday solution for everyone to cut fuel costs and clean our air,” added Francis X. Vogel, executive director of Wisconsin Clean Cities.

Start your own eco-driving project today by accelerating gradually, using cruise control, and reducing time spent idling your engine.



Fuelishness! Feed: Hummer now “Green” for Japan; Diesel Engine Biofuel Advances; Dolphin Wins Eco-Driving Challenge; Fuel Efficiency VS. The Tax Man in Washington State

  • In Japan, the Hummer Is Now Officially Green — Starting this week, Japanese buyers of the hulking power machines from General Motors — which come with a 5.3-liter, 300 horsepower engine and roar to 60 miles per hour in eight seconds — receive a 250,000 yen ($2,780) subsidy under Japan’s new, looser fuel-efficiency standards for imported cars.
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  • Researchers develop “smart” diesel engine that runs on biofuel blend — Researchers from Cummings and Purdue University claim to have found a way to improve fuel efficiency in diesel engines that run on biodiesel fuel while cutting emission levels. The process involves an advanced “closed-loop control” approach for preventing diesel engines from emitting greater amounts of smog-causing nitrogen oxides when running on biodiesel fuels.
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  • Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne wins Audi fuel-efficiency driving challenge — The Audi Efficiency Challenge was designed to showcase the mileage and performance possibilities that Audi TDI clean diesel technology provides in real-world driving conditions.
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  • Fuel-efficient cars affecting Washington gas tax — Automobiles are more fuel-efficient, people are driving less and, increasingly, they are driving automobiles that aren’t powered by petroleum at all…”All of those things add up to the fact that we aren’t going to rely on the gas tax as being the mainstay of the future if we want to maintain, preserve and improve our transportation system,” said Paula Hammond, the state’s transportation secretary.


Announcing: FuelClinic.com membership in Stuttgart’s “Cities for Mobility”

Today we are very pleased to announce FuelClinic.com membership in the Cities for Mobility network, created and coordinated by the city of Stuttgart, Germany to promote sustainable and efficient transport systems in the member cities.

Cities for Mobility” is a global network on all questions regarding urban mobility. The network is coordinated by the City of Stuttgart and promotes transnational cooperation between local governments, transportation companies, businesses, science and the civil society, with the aim of supporting the development of sustainable and efficient transport systems in the member cities.

“We want to warmly welcome FuelClinic.com as new member in the world wide network Cities for Mobility. The Coordination Office is more than delighted by your decision to join our network and we look forward to a fruitful cooperation with [you]“, wrote Isabelle Kübler from the office of Coordinator Network Cities for Mobility.

FuelClinic.com will provide member cities the ability to invigorate and measure their eco-driving and driver behavior improvement programs with free web-based eco-driving training materials, a voluntary web-based driver-efficiency analysis and reporting system, and increasing levels of technology support for promoting and measuring eco-driving behavior within their cities and communities.

FuelClinic.com was nominated for membership in this network by existing  member Projeto Melhorar, a Brazilian-based initiative to create sustainable transportation systems in South America’s largest country.



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