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Six quick wins

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Read our six quick wins to find out how you can save fuel, money and reduce emissions.

Driver behaviour

Driver training should be a core component of any freight management programme. If drivers are not motivated to take part it can be difficult to achieve sustained reductions in fuel consumption. This is especially crucial where vehicle drivers are incentivised on the basis of metrics other than driving style, or if data on driving style is not captured. Drivers may feel that they have more pressing priorities than fuel consumption in their primary activities: for example, demanding delivery schedules may encourage drivers to rush to meet deadlines. Given that driver behaviour directly contributes to tyre and brake wear and therefore to particulate matter emissions, it is vital to involve drivers from the outset and to treat them as genuine partners in the programme.

Anticipate the actions of other drivers

Driving is all about reading the road ahead and deciding what’s likely to happen. Spotting hazards earlier and allowing yourself enough stopping distance to avoid sharp braking will smooth out the ‘stop-go’ of driving in built up areas. Because you’re not braking as much or as heavily, you won’t need to accelerate as hard. Physics shows us that lots of energy is used to accelerate, so by not pushing down on the accelerator as often, your fuel consumption will reduce. (Source DVSA MovingOn web blog)

Slow down using momentum

Did you know, when driving downhill or slowing down, a modern vehicle will usually use less fuel if you remain in the right gear but take your foot off the accelerator, rather than if you ‘coast’ in neutral. This is because modern lorries are intelligent enough to recognise when the momentum of the vehicle is driving the engine, rather than the engine driving the lorry forward.

The fuel cut-off switch usually kicks in when you take your foot off the accelerator, stopping the flow of fuel to the injectors. A vehicle coasting in neutral would still be burning fuel to keep the engine ticking over.

It’s worth bearing in mind however, this isn’t the case when slowing down at low revs, such as when driving through stop-start traffic. If you’re not using high revs, the fuel cut-off switch doesn’t operate and most engines will instead inject enough fuel to prevent a stall, even if the accelerator isn’t being pressed. At low revs it is more efficient to go in to neutral or dip the clutch.(Source DVSA MovingOn web blog)


Air resistance or drag increases as a vehicle’s speed increases, so whenever a lorry speeds up, air resistance increases too. At motorway speeds most of the fuel burned by a lorry is used to overcome drag and the relationship between drag and speed mean that relatively small increases in speed add a great deal to fuel consumption.

Fitting wind deflectors to your lorry can reduce drag and keeping the rev counter in the green band will use less fuel than rapid acceleration.

Generally, the higher your cruising speed, the more fuel you are likely to use. (Source DVSA MovingOn web blog)

Don’t overuse air conditioning

Air conditioning takes its power from the engine and increases fuel consumption. And that fuel consumption can be surprisingly high! Once the internal temperature has been reduced, an air conditioning system doesn’t need to work as hard to maintain the lower temperature.

Our advice is to use air conditioning sparingly and never have it running while your windows are open. While many drivers feel they would not be prepared to stop using their air conditioning completely, you can reduce the use of your air conditioning with little or no sacrifice for comfort. This could be done by setting the climate control a degree or two higher. (Source DVSA MovingOn web blog)

Engine idling

Studies into the amount of fuel used by cars while their engines are idling and the fuel used when engines are turned off and then back on, suggest it’s better to turn your engine off if you’re not moving. Of course, it’s important to consider whether it is safe and practical to turn your engine off when stood in traffic or stopping for another reason. As a rule of thumb, if you are going to be stationary for 10-20 seconds, turning off your engine will save fuel.(Source DVSA MovingOn web blog)

It should be noted that engine idling is illegal if a vehicle is: stationary, not in traffic and isn’t running machinery (such as a TRU) from the engine. Local Authorities can issue Fixed Penalty Notices with fines, to drivers they see idling unnecessarily. Ensuring drivers are aware of this will reduce the potential for fines and unnecessary fuel use.

You can also find out more about eco-safe driving by taking a training course. This will count towards your 35 hours of periodic training, part of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence. Remember, you should never compromise safety to improve economy.

Safety and public image are important issues for any organisation and, in general, fuel-efficient drivers are safe drivers as they focus on anticipation. Training can not only reduce the amount of fuel you use but can also have a range of other positive benefits, such as reduced maintenance costs, fewer accidents and lower insurance premiums. Train your drivers in fuel efficiency, then continually monitor performance challenging your drivers to set personal bests and then use this personal performance to gamify with league tables, incentivising the best performers.

How to encourage fuel-efficient driving

There are a range of strategies that can be used to develop and reinforce fuel-efficient driving techniques:

  • Communication and driver feedback – involve drivers and other parties and ensure they understand benefits to them and to the organisation
  • Recruitment and induction – use a skills questionnaire for new and existing drivers
  • Speed limiters and on-board computers – where applicable, consider the use of speed limiters and computers to help reduce fuel consumption further
  • Driver disciplines and vehicle checklists – develop a culture of care for vehicles and encourage drivers to check vehicles before operation
  • League tables – rank fuel consumption by driver or groups of drivers
  • Training plans – develop training plans emphasising elements such as gentle braking and acceleration, appropriate speed, and anticipation
  • Driver development: reinforce training and communicate results of programme to drivers

Large-scale training programmes may not always be feasible, so it is important to provide information in a way that is relevant. Messaging should be simple and straightforward. Training manuals may be useful, but you can also encourage better driving habits through other methods such as short presentations, as well as posters and notices with tips on how improvements can be made.

Healthy, good-natured competition or “gamification,” for example through the use of league tables, within the organisation can lead to improved performances from a variety of staff. If comparisons between drivers and vehicles are made, remember it is important to compare similar activities to ensure that assessments are fair and realistic.

Fuel Management

You cannot manage what you don’t measure

While service delivery and road safety are very important to freight operations, fuel is a resource that needs to be well managed. Although fuel use varies considerably across different fleets, it nevertheless represents a major cost in most settings. In many operations, fuel can account for 30% or more of total operating expenses so recording and understanding fuel consumption is vitally important to manage.

Fuel consumption is directly related to vehicle emissions so reducing fuel use will reduce costs, improve margins and at the same time reduce the adverse impact on public health and climate change of vehicle emissions.

Tyre Management

Fitting the best tyre for your truck

Fitting low rolling resistance tyres (or energy efficient tyres) can offer significant fuel and overall cost savings in comparison to standard tyres. Consider the energy efficiency of your choice by looking at the manufacturer’s tyre label rating.

Keep your tyres inflated

As any cyclist knows, it’s harder to pedal a bike with under-inflated tyres. An under inflated tyre increases rolling resistance.
When a lorry has under-inflated tyres the engine has to work harder to overcome this resistance, using more fuel than it would if the tyres were inflated to the correct pressure.

Remember, checking your tyres are correctly maintained should be part of your daily walk around check. Under-inflated tyres or tyres in poor condition pose a risk to anyone travelling on the road. A 20% drop in tyre pressure can result in a 2% increase in fuel consumption


Route planning

The use of route planning software will enable the optimisation of fleet miles, planning the most fuel efficient route will improve fleet fuel efficiency, cut emissions and save money.

Load planning

Reducing empty running by planning loads and finding loads for backhauls has the potential to improve income and profit and at the same time limit wasting fuel. It is not always easy to reduce empty running and will vary depending on the type of transport service offered. The use of transport management systems and freight platforms can help in maximising the vehicle efficiency and finding that load to move rather than running empty.



Air resistance or drag increases as a vehicle’s speed increases, so whenever a lorry speeds up, air resistance increases too.  At motorway speeds most of the fuel burned by a lorry is used to overcome drag and the relationship between drag and speed mean that relatively small increases in speed add a great deal to fuel consumption.

Fitting wind deflectors to your lorry can reduce drag and keeping the rev counter in the green band will use less fuel than rapid acceleration. Aerodynamic styling features: reduce drag and therefore fuel consumption; includes cab roof deflectors, trailer side skirts, and trailer front fairings. See here for expected impact on fuel consumption.


Telematics systems: can monitor driver behaviour to encourage safer practices and optimise routes based on data.

Why use telematics?

There are four major reasons for implementing telematics:

  • To manage routes and distance
  • To optimise business operations
  • To manage vehicle condition, fuel costs and maintenance
  • To assist with driver safety and training

Telematics involves the use of IT to actively control and monitor remote devices or systems. As a result of rapid improvements in satellite tracking (GPS) and communication equipment over the past decade, telematics systems are being used for a wide range of tasks. These include vehicle tracking and driver performance monitoring, as well as on-board communication and navigation systems.

Telematic systems can provide data or information that, once processed, can deliver the insight and information a fleet operator needs to make strategic and daily management decisions with confidence, potentially transforming their fleet operation and delivering significant cost and carbon savings. For example, drivers prone to harsh braking and acceleration can be targeted with additional training, or routes can be planned and optimised to save time and fuel.

Existing systems range from low cost, off-the-shelf systems giving basic navigational assistance, to highly accurate, real-time tracking systems. Technology systems such as cameras and self-reporting software can also be useful for fleet managers for compliance and safety reasons. However, it should be remembered that different systems will work best for different users, depending on the operating environment. Effective implementation of technology requires thorough research, planning, and monitoring and the capability to accurately analyse the data generated (and ongoing resources to do so diligently once it is implemented).

Ensure that you know what information you want from a system before procurement and that the preferred option is able to provide this as a useful output. These systems can provide data in a number of formats and levels of detail, such as performance and compliance reports and charts or a simple “dashboard” overview of specific measures of interest to the fleet manager. Good telematics providers should include features in their software which produce a quick access dashboard of pre-planned metrics.