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?
Today the website SaferTeenDriver.com was relaunched with a new hazard perception evaluation and related defensive driver training courses. The updated website incorporates best in class evaluation and educational services from BrightFleet.com, but adds a unique coaching guide to help parents and teens get the most from the training.
“We have spent years helping fleets improve their safety programs and reduce risk,” said Bob O’Connor, the CFO of BrightFleet, “Now I have a teenage daughter who was having difficulty learning how to drive. She had learned the basic mechanics of driving, but lacked any real understanding of the hazards around her. It was as if she was driving in a bubble. Out of frustration I thought about applying the same hazard perception evaluation and related courses we had been using for several years with commercial fleets, but this time for her.”
Teen drivers are most at risk of having an accident in their first year of driving. Car accidents are still the number one cause of death for teenagers, and injure or maim countless more. Novice teen drivers lack the experience to identify and understand the kinds of hazards that are common on the roads today. They tend to have poor situational awareness, and target-fixate on hazards that appear suddenly, instead of concentrating on maintaining an “out” if a potential hazard turns into an actual one.
“I found that my child responded very well to the training, given the additional guidance I was able to provide to help her understand how the training worked. She picked it up right away. She completed her evaluation, and was assigned a set of courses like proper use of mirrors, safe lane changing, and the other motorist to take,” said Mr. O’Connor. “She completed her courses in about a week, and in the following ride-alongs with her I noticed a real improvement in her awareness. She was talking me through the potential hazards she was watching as we drove along. I was blown away by her progress in such a short period of time, and that’s when I decided that we had to make this training available to parents and novice teen drivers.”
Parents interested in seeing how this service can help their own soon-to-be or just licensed novice drivers can watch a short video explaining how SaferTeenDriver works. The training normally retails for $119.95 and includes access for both the parent and the teen driver, but during a limited introductory promotional period, new accounts can be purchased at a discounted rate of $99.95 by using the code “TheExtraMile” during the checkout process.
SaferTeenDriver.com is a service of BrightFleet.com, which is a service of Compendium Software Systems, LLC – a veteran owned small business located in Central Florida that focuses on tailoring advanced technologies into solutions that help prevent accidents, reduce risk, and save companies (and now parents!) money by improving the safety and efficiency of drivers everywhere.
The ecodriver-project.eu study “A study on perceived usefulness of eco-driving assistant systems in Europe” released this week show there is a great deal of interest in eco-driving, good deal of belief that the benefits are real, but no interest in paying for this kind of technology/service.
While this has been our experience with a consumer-based product (like our FuelClinic), there is considerably more interest from fleets interested in incorporating similar programs into their larger operations, since the cost saving benefits are multiplied well above what your average motorist would see (in addition to the safety and collision reduction side-effects of conservative eco-driving).
So what’s the most effective way to change the behavior of motoring public at little or no cost? How about a piece of duct tape over the fuel gauge?
While Eco-Drive Chicago offers a variety of environmental benefits for the City of Chicago, perhaps the most compelling reason to adopt the program is based in economics. Recent studies have shown that eco-driving practices can lead to a sustained improvement in fuel efficiency of 25%, with short-term improvements reaching as high as 50%. Given that the fuel budget for the City of Chicago’s Department of Fleet and Facility Management is $25.7 million, fuel efficiency improvements of a more modest 15% would amount to $3.86 million dollars in fuel savings annually (if all fleet vehicles drivers were trained). These savings could increase dramatically if the price of fuel rises in the years to come.
While point estimates are not yet available, eco-driving training may also result in reductions in fleet maintenance costs, insurance premiums, and accident liability deductibles, as well the recapture of otherwise productive work time that is now spent refueling vehicles. On the whole, Eco-Drive Chicago: Saving Millions, Reducing Emissions 2 implementing eco-driving training programs will result in significant and sustainable net fiscal savings for the City of Chicago.
Re-posted from: FleetBlogs > Decision Points
While I’ve been championing “eco-driving” for the past 5 years as a tested, proven, and effective way to reduce fuel costs, for some reason it’s still a “hard sell” here in the US. While most of the rest of the world already employs some sort of eco-driving component into their driver training and fleet operations, the US seems simply not interested, even though the numbers are there to prove how effective it is.
This week yet another study, this time by a company providing eco-driving training and systems, says transit systems can reduce consumption by 18.7% by adopting simple driving techniques. Given the rising cost of fuels, the flat operations budgets, one would think any fleet manager would be interested in cutting costs.
Here are the top 5 ways to reduce your fuel costs starting today:
1) Reduce your fleet’s maximum speed. Do it now. Do it in writing, set a policy and have you drivers sign it. Test them that they understood it. Communicate to other drivers on the road with a sign on the back of your vehicles so they know why the vehicle will not be speeding. Ask them to pass your vehicle safely. Say that you will be “passing the savings to customers”, or “keeping your people employed”, or you “want to save the plant”. Doesn’t matter.
2) Train your drivers to accelerate slowly, upshift early, and keep engine RPMs as low as possible without damage to the transmission.
3) Train your drivers to anticipate traffic lights and stops, and have them slow ahead of the stop by reducing throttle.
4) Train your drivers to look for opportunities to maintain momentum as they approach red lights by slowing, giving the light time to cycle to green.
5) Keep your tire pressure and filters at manufacturers recommended conditions. Keep all equipment maintained.
If your company is rolling in cash, then by all means keep on truckin’ at full throttle, it helps stimulate all the energy infrastructure, who employ a lot of people.
If you are looking for ways to reduce operational expenses because you HAVE to, and not because you WANT to, look at your fleet fuel spend, subtract 20%. While you are at it, take a look at your fleet accident costs, subtract 10% to 20% (efficient drivers are safer drivers).
I’d imagine that money is something your company could find other uses for.
Download the new eco-driving infographic from the eco-driving experts at Ford.
From Automotive Fleet:
WASHINGTON – Ford announced it plans to more than triple its production levels of vehicles equipped with its EcoBoost engines. In addition, the company is expanding the number of vehicle models available with EcoBoost engines, from seven in 2011 to a total of 11 in 2012. The automaker added that by the end of 2012, nine Ford models will get an EPA-certified 40 mpg highway…
The migration went okay, and the site is back up and running. I found a few interesting problems, but it should be working now. Let me know if you find anything broken.
I’ll be moving FuelClinic.com to a new server over the weekend, and plan to have the domain redirect to the blog (this page) during this outage. Normally a move like this can be done seamlessly in an hour or so. We need to stop access to the site so we can move the database intact without losing data. I’m also going to have to make some code modifications due to differences between the server environments, so I’m giving myself some extra time.
There is a slight chance the outage will go longer, and if so, I will keep you updated via this blog. The blog should remain online and available during this move.
I’m sorry for the inconvenience this may cause you over the weekend. We’ll be back online shortly.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving is the busiest traffic day of the year. That means sharing the road with drivers who are using hand-held devices, eating, sleepy, or even drunk. So give yourself one more reason to be thankful. Be safe – slow down, buckle up, stay alert and give heavy trucks plenty of room since they can’t see, maneuver or stop like you can.
Green isn’t just for camouflage any more. The US military recognizes the need to become more efficient, less dependent, and more sustainable.
From a green economy perspective, this legislation could not be more important. The military’s huge demand for energy translates into enormous market pull. By creating a market for biofuels and green technology, the military can spur further research and drive down the price of clean energy to levels that would be competitive with traditional energy sources. According to analysis presented at a congressional briefing on the Defense Department’s Deployment of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, section 526 sends positive signals to the green energy sector by reassuring clean energy producers that their investments will be met with steady demand from the DoD. Such stability is critical for any burgeoning industry.
Read the rest at the Epoch Times.
Fuelishness! Feed: 1,418 Miles Between Fill-ups; VW’s Eco-Driving Program; Waste up to 45%; Drivers, not cars, to blame; Bio-fuels 10 years after 9/11
It’s been a little while since I’ve posted a Fuelishness! Feed, so this one is overdue. Eco-driving seems to be creeping into the wider American consciousness. Now it’s less about global warming, more about saving money. Here are some of the best stories of the past week or so:
- 1,418 Miles on a Single Tank of Gas, Avg 64MPG — Throughout their journey, in a standard-issue 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid, the drivers averaged 64.55 mpg, and 1,418 miles on the road before having to refill the tank…Taking the recommended approach can net the driver a 45% savings in gas over the course of a year, no matter what vehicle we’re talking about.
- A day at the Volkswagen Eco Driving Programme — Even though I was already a light-footed driver, I still learned a thing or two that will help me save more fuel. The computer that measured our driving really captured all kinds of mindbogglingly useful data which could be graphed and charted.
- Your choices can cut gas cost up to 45% — Less aggressive and slower driving can save up to 30%, so pick your times to let it out. Don’t be perpetually impatient, particularly when it’s not really saving any time and is really costing you gas.
- Cars Don’t Waste Fuel. Drivers Waste Fuel — Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CERT) are developing a new way of boosting fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent without changing a car’s powertrain at all.
- Using biofuels to reduce American dependance on foreign oil — 9/11 refocused attention on energy security. It has remained one of the three foundations of US energy policy in the decade thereafter, the others being economic competitiveness and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The influence of each changes over time but the three are linked inextricably.
There’s one narrative that still needs telling – the connection between safe and efficient drivers. More on that later…
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.
Block was able to spend the better part of an hour interviewing her over the phone about her mission and her relationship with Hang Up – Save A Life, an organization she helped start after losing a friend in an automobile accident where the other driver was texting.
It’s an interesting interview. She makes several excellent points – including the need to reach young drivers who are just learning to drive, as well as older drivers who are just learning to text.
Decision Points: Do you think distracted driving is also a problem among commercial fleets?
Jamie Lynn Crandall: I think everybody is guilty of it. Although I’m trying more to get the attention of young people in high school that are just starting to learn how to drive, it’s just as important for people my age and even our parents, because they’re just starting to learn how to text, and they’re trying to do it at the same time they’re trying to do everything else. I would especially hope, however, that the drivers of fleet vehicles would take these warnings even more seriously, as they’re on the clock at their job.
Distracted driving is now considered to be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Texting while driving is considered to be one of the most risky things people can do behind the wheel, and most company and government vehicle policies prohibit it while on company time. Many parts of the country have laws prohibiting texting while driving, and there are apps for smart phones that will help parents and fleet managers control the ability to make and receive calls and texts while driving.
Read the whole thing over at Decision Points @ Fleet Blogs.
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.
Have you ever been driving along without a care in the world, then you glance down at the fuel gauge and notice that the needle is below the empty mark? You’ve forgotten to fill-up, and you are not sure how much gas is left in the tank… you know where the next gas station is, but it’s not very close…
You lift your foot off the gas pedal a little, slow to a more gingerly pace, coast up to stop lights just hoping that it will turn green before you have to stop, then you slowly accelerate trying to get every last quarter-mile from those last few quarts of gas sloshing around at the bottom of your tank.
Congratulations! You just became an instant eco-driver, no special training required.
But you don’t have to be motivated by the anxiety of being stranded at the side of the road in order to improve your fuel mileage considerably, and as often as you wanted to. The same “techniques” that you instinctively understood would help you with a near-empty fuel tank can also help you go much further on every gallon of gasoline you buy.
Here are the top five techniques that are proven to work on every vehicle.
- Accelerate Gradually – You don’t need to hold up traffic or drive like you left your coffee on the roof. Just accelerate more gradually than normal. Be the slowest off the line, and relax knowing that you are going to get to the next stoplight in about the same amount of time as everyone else.
- Leave Your Aggression Curbside – We’ve all done this. You are in a rush, you didn’t leave early enough to give yourself enough time to account for traffic, and traffic has been slow. You are tailgating the knucklehead in front of you hoping that he’ll move out of your way. The first chance you get you dart over to the fast lane and “make up time” with a little extra lead in your foot. You may think you’re making time, but studies show that drivers who time lights and traffic patterns arrive at their destinations sooner than drivers who drive aggressively. Relax, leave a few minutes early, stop jockeying for “position” with the cars around you, and you’ll find you arrive on time, in a better mood, and with more gas left in the tank.
- Avoid Stopping – Don’t try to tell Officer Friendly that you were saving gas by rolling through stop signs, they can’t be avoided. But the proper timing of lights and traffic patterns like smoothly merging into traffic can go a long way to helping you maintain your momentum. Any amount of momentum you can keep means less work needed to re-accelerate. Avoiding having to start from a total stop will save fuel every time. This takes a little bit of practice to get right, but with a little effort you’ll be negotiating traffic like a pro.
- Loose the Need For Speed – It’s simple physics. The drag on your vehicle increases with speed. The more drag, the more work your engine needs to do to maintain or increase that speed. Work = Fuel. Sure your speedometer on your car goes all the way up to 150 MPH, and the traffic on most major highways zips along above the posted speed limit, but neither is an excuse for not slowing things down a bit if you want to save money on fuel. Stay out of the way of all those filthy rich people who have money to burn, move over to the slow lane, and enjoy the warm feeling of giving “big oil” the bird as you continue to drive to your destination – on your terms.
- No Excessive Idling – This one is a little different, and not my favorite. I don’t recommend turning your vehicle off at stop lights or when you are engaged in stop and go traffic, unless it’s clear that you are in a backup that isn’t going to be moving for many minutes on end. Even then, re-starting a car with a hot battery and hot starter can sometimes be iffy (especially in older cars). The last place you want to be stranded is in the middle of a backup. But there are times when idling is done excessively, more often out of laziness or poor planning. Idling gets exactly zero miles per gallon. Idling in a drive-thru lane is costing you money. You might want to park and walk inside instead. Idling while you eat lunch and listen to the radio is another way to waste gas. Idling to “warm up” your car is a waste, unless it’s winter, and you want the heat to work.
There you have it – five top ways to improve your fuel economy. Most drivers can easily improve 10%, some may get up to 25% or more, depending on how terrible their driving habits were to start with. You can track your progress for free on http://www.fuelclinic.com and see for yourself.
There are 15 more eco-driving tips online at: http://www.fuelclinic.com/eco-driving-tips/
And don’t let the “eco” turn you off, manly-men can eco-drive too!
All signs are pointing to a continued run on fuel costs here in the US, with many experts predicting $5.00+ per gallon prices common by mid-summer. This is despite a continuing slump in crude oil demand here in the US – now at a 12-year low. This paradox between low demand and high prices has many wondering what’s really happening in the market, and where will it go from here.
Some industry advisors blame commodity speculators for the gouging at the pump, while others say a booming Chinese market and weakening dollar are to blame for near-record pump prices. Still others claim it’s the work of the Obama Administration to raise energy costs in order to make alternative sources of energy competitive in price. (After all he did promise to do just that during his campaign.)
Regardless of the cause, the reality to commuters and business owners is a painful reminder of the summer of 2008 when rocketing energy prices caused a wide ripple effect on prices in nearly every sector of the economy. Many businesses were in a panic about paying surging fuel costs while keeping prices low and people employed. Consumers felt it everywhere, but especially at the pump with painful total sale costs per tank of gas.
So what will $5 per gallon gasoline mean to you?
Will you choose to car-pool, buy a more efficient car, walk or bike to work (where possible), take fewer trips, buy gasoline on discount-days, adopt eco-driving habits, or cut-back in other areas of spending to afford your normal driving habits?
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, (626) 429-2723.
Fuelishness! Feed: Gas Prices Up Despite Glut of Oil; EcoMode for Ford Focus; UCR Eco-Driving Study Started; Instant Feedback Important for Eco-Driving; “Grey Fleet” Eco-Driving Off-set Reduced Mileage Allowance; Auto Insurance Costs $84,000
Here’s a quick fill-up:
- Retail gas prices rise in spite of supply glut and reduced Middle East tensions — Retail gasoline prices have continued to rise in California and around the rest of the U.S., in spite of falling oil prices, mounting optimism about Middle East unrest, and U.S. fuel supplies so plentiful that their like has not been seen in 17 years.
- All-New Ford Focus Features EcoMode to Help Drivers Perfect Eco-Driving Techniques — “The foot of the driver has one of the biggest impacts on real-world fuel economy of a vehicle and was the starting point for the development of EcoMode,” said Thomas Schick, an engineer with the Ford of Germany Core Vehicle Integration team who helped design the software. “This is a useful tool that creates awareness between personal behavior and fuel consumption and offers up hints on how to improve. Applying those hints and recommendations is all up to the driver.”
- UCR study focuses on ‘eco-driving’ — The UCR Engineering Center for Environmental Research & Technology, along with researchers from UC Berkeley and UC Davis, are conducting the study with Earthrise Technology Inc. to determine what driving behaviors lead to the least fuel consumption.
- Using Instant Feedback for “Eco-Driving” — Eco-driving technology and behaviors can be implemented immediately, with little cost and investment in transportation infrastructure, supporters of the technology say. It’s also a simple way of reducing transportation-related carbon emissions. The final report is expected to be published in the spring of 2012.
- Fleet Hero grey fleet management award — Paul Jackson, managing director of The Miles Consultancy, says there are side-benefits for staff in smarter driving courses…Jackson says fuel consumption and emissions can be cut by nearly a quarter when drivers use eco-driving techniques of reading the road farther ahead, cutting out aggressive braking and slowing at roundabouts, rather than stopping, if the road is clear.
- Study: Average lifetime car insurance costs estimated at $84,000 — Insurance.com based its analysis on quotes from drivers who first purchased insurance at age 21, married at 27, briefly insured two teens and stopped driving at age 75. The average premium includes drivers with all types of claims, accidents and other driving histories.
Volvo Proving Ground, Gothenburg, Sweden — …The vehicle platooning system is a convoy of vehicles, where a professional driver in a lead vehicle drives a line of other vehicles. Each car measures the distance, speed and direction and adjusts to the car in front. All vehicles are totally detached and can leave the procession at any time. Once in the platoon, drivers can relax and do other things while the platoon proceeds towards its destination.
Platooning is designed to improve a number of aspects, such as: road safety, as it rules out the human factor that is the cause of at least 80% of road accidents; fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions are saved by up to 20%; convenience for drivers, because it frees up time for other matters; and traffic congestion, as the vehicles will travel at highway speed with a gap of only a few meters between them. The tests carried out included a lead vehicle and single following car. The steering wheel of the following car moves by itself, as the vehicle smoothly follows the lead truck around the country road test track. The driver is able to drink coffee or read a paper, using neither hand nor foot to operate his vehicle. The technology development is well under way and is likely go into production in a few years time. What may take substantially longer is public acceptance of the system and the legislation where 25 EU governments must all pass similar laws…
[Hat Tip: Eddie Wren – International Road Safety – LinkedIn Group]
…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.
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.
As the fall and winter driving seasons get under way, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging users of 15-passenger vans to take specific steps to keep occupants safe. Two recent fatal crashes, in New York and Georgia, involving 15-passenger vans that rolled over and resulted in 10 deaths give urgency to this reminder.
The agency warns that tire maintenance is paramount to preventing tragedies, such as these recent rollover crashes, from occurring. Users of 15-passenger vans need to make sure the vehicles have appropriately-sized tires that are properly inflated before every trip. The agency also points out that tires degrade over time. For this reason, NHTSA recommends that spare tires not be used as replacements for worn tires. In fact, many tire manufacturers recommend that tires older than 10 years not be used at all.
NHTSA said that it is directing this advisory to church groups, other non-profit organizations and colleges that may be keeping older 15-passenger vans in service longer than usual because of tight transportation budgets. Pre-primary, primary and secondary schools should not use 15-passenger vans for transporting school children, as they do not provide the same level of safety as school buses. It is also against federal law for schools to buy new 15-passenger vans for school transportation purposes.
Here are some safety tips for anyone planning a trip in 15-passenger vans:
- If you are an owner, make sure the vehicle is properly maintained.
- Owners should make sure drivers are fully trained and experienced in operating a 15-passenger van and are properly licensed.
- 15-passenger vans are very sensitive to loading and should not be overloaded under any circumstances. Agency research shows overloading not only increases rollover risk but makes the vehicle more unstable in any handling maneuvers.
- Owners should make sure that properly sized tires are being used on their vehicles.
- Before every trip, drivers should check the tires for proper inflation, and make sure there are no signs of wear. Correct tire size and inflation pressure information can be found in the owner’s manual.
- If you are a passenger, make sure you buckle up for every trip.
Additional information on 15-passenger van safety can be found here.