How to Achieve Better Fuel Efficiency

Gary S. Vasilash

While vehicle manufacturers of all types and sizes are working hard at achieving better fuel efficiency for the vehicles they engineer, a recent study by a company called SmartDrive, which works with fleet operations, has conducted a study that shows that driving techniques have a tremendous impact on fuel efficiency.

Orion bus

A diesel-electric hybrid bus built by Daimler Buses.

The “Public Transit Fuel Efficiency Study” obtained data collected by a variety of SmartDrive in-vehicle sensors (e.g., multi-axis accelerometers, high-sensitivity GPS receivers) from fleets in the public sector. Results were obtained from “several hundred large buses” of various makes in various cities.

The study began by obtaining a benchmark on the effects of driver behavior on fuel economy. Metrics included acceleration, braking, turning, and idling.

Then, the company provided driving training on eco-driving techniques including through the use of its Instant Driver Feedback (IDF) system, which uses colored LED lights that indicate whether the driver is driving in an efficient manner or not.

During the pre-training control system, there was an average of 3.87 mpg being achieved. At the end of the first month after training, the performance improved to 4.18 mpg, or an 8.02% increase overall.

The top 25% performing drivers achieved 4.59 mpg, or an 18.70% increase compared to the baseline.

There is something to be said for the elimination of quick acceleration, hard braking and turns, and excessive idling. And a lot of money to be saved.