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How to Coach Your Drivers Toward Fuel Efficiency

Posted September 8, 2015

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The U.S. Department of Energy notes that drivers can save nearly a third of their fuel consumption on the highway by simply driving less aggressively. Statistics like this one suggest that cutting fuel costs for a fleet must be a cinch, but the reality is that driving behaviors are difficult to correct. Many of the habits that lead that lead to inefficient driving are internalized by employees over decades of driving. Fleet managers interested in improving fuel efficiency by correcting the inefficient habits of their drivers will have to coach them every step of the way.

Introduce fuel cards
A bit of accountability goes a long way when it comes to tracking driver behavior on the road. In addition to providing a deterrent against theft, fuel cards can also be used to keep track of a driver's position and daily route. This information can be used by drivers and fleet managers alike to plan more efficient driving strategies. Fuel fleet cards can also be used to track maintenance costs and expenses, so drivers are doubly motivated to drive as efficiently and safely as possible.

Give face-to-face feedback
Telematics and fuel cards are great tools for tracking driver behavior and identifying inefficient performance. However, it will take the top-notch personal skills of a fleet manager to communicate these areas of improvement to their employees. Sending a memo with relevant analytics to drivers won't enact any lasting changes in performance. Fleet managers will have more success in coaching employees to address bad driving habits by meeting with them personally. Some companies even have efficiency coaches that ride along with less efficient drivers and help to point out signs of inefficient driving.

Draft new policies
Fleet companies can effectively communicate their priorities to employees in the form of policy changes, says the Alternative Fuels Data Center. One way to accelerate the adoption of efficient driving standards is to set new standards requiring drivers to meet certain safely metrics, along with consequences for employees who fail to meet the cut. Alternatively, fleets can utilize these new policies to create incentives for cost-saving performance. Drivers will be more likely to drive at maximum efficiency if a bonus is on the line.

Provide continuous training
New skills are only committed to memory after being constantly practiced. In addition, industry experts are always generating new methods to improve driver efficiency and bring down costs. Ongoing training offers drivers an opportunity to perfect their skills, socialize with other employees and learn the latest strategies for fuel efficiency.

Continuous training also communicates to drivers that fuel efficiency is a company priority that is worth the time and the effort. Training can be adjusted for seasonal changes as well. Drivers will get more out of a snow-driving course now than in the Spring, for example. Keeping training topics fresh and relevant will communicate to drivers that their best interests are at the heart of company.

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