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Using Telematics to Improve Your Fleet’s Fuel Economy

  • July 14, 2021
  • Bill Westerman
  • Reading Time: 3 minutes
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Pedal to control the car while driving at speed. Credit: (Natali_Mis, iStock)

Fuel is the number one operating cost for most fleets. Every dollar your organization saves by improving fuel efficiency is a dollar that can be spent on something else. Fleet telematics is the answer to driving fewer unnecessary miles and making fuel go further.

By using telematics-based fleet management software such as CalAmp iOn™, you can generate small changes in daily operations and driver behavior that reduce your fuel use and, over time, turn into significant savings.

Here are six ways to shrink your fuel budget with the help of a telematics system.

RELATED: 6 Tips for Adding Electric Vehicles to Your Fleet  

Minimize idling

Some drivers have a bad habit of idling the engine more than necessary, which increases emissions and eats up gas or diesel. Depending on the size of the vehicle and whether or not the air conditioning is turned on, idling can waste as much as a quart of fuel per hour for a sedan and nearly a gallon per hour for a heavy-duty truck.[1]Long idling is also illegal in some states.

Drivers may not think twice about idling, but they should, which is why many organizations put an idling policy in place. A telematics system can be used to enforce that policy.

Schedule or generate idle reports to see idle times for each driver. To manage the worst offenders, set a custom alert based on the parameters you choose. Perhaps you don’t want to be alerted every time a driver idles for more than 10 minutes but you want to know right away if a driver idles for more than 30 minutes.

Reduce aggressive driving

Harsh braking, harsh acceleration, swerving and speeding are risky moves. They also increase fuel consumption. A telematics device can track these behaviors. Use the reports in your fleet management software to see which drivers are engaging in them so you can provide feedback and additional training.

To catch drivers in the act of aggressive driving, configure an alert so you’re notified in near-real time if, for example, a driver exceeds the speed limit by more than 15 mph.

One county in Florida that installed GPS trackers on 556 utility vehicles saved more than $150,000 in annual fuel costs, in large part by reducing aggressive driving and idling.

Optimize and enforce routes

Shortening routes saves fuel, as does avoiding traffic congestion.A telematics-based fleet management system lets you plan routes, optimize the order of stops and avoid construction zones.

Use breadcrumb reports to analyze the efficiency of regular routes. If drivers along certain routes are often delayed, you may want to look for alternatives. If delays happen mainly during certain times of day, consider adjusting delivery or service schedules.

Once routes are established, you can geofence those routes and find out, through geofence reports and alerts, if drivers stray, whether it’s for a legitimate reason like accommodating a customer or to hit an out-of-the-way restaurant or take the scenic route home.

Draw geofences around unauthorized gas stations to help ensure that drivers fuel up only at pre-approved locations.

RELATED: Keeping Fuel Card Users Accountable with Telematics


[1] https://www.chicagotribune.com/autos/sc-auto-motormouth-0308-story.html, https://afdc.energy.gov/files/u/publication/hdv_idling_2015.pdf

To avoid traffic jams that increase fuel consumption, use the traffic map layer in your fleet management solution to view a driver’s route. If you see bumper-to-bumper traffic, consider redirecting the driver.

Curb personal use of vehicles

Personal use of fleet vehicles adds to an organization’s fuel tab.Here again, geofences can help.

Create a geofence around an employee’s home and get alerted if the vehicle leaves the location during non-work hours. Or geofence unauthorized locations that employees may be tempted to visit during or after work hours, such as a casino or mall.

Improve preventive maintenance

Well-maintained vehicles — those with properly inflated tires, aligned wheels, clean fuel filters and optimal levels of engine coolants and lubricants, for instance — use less fuel. A telematics system can alert the driver and fleet manager when mileage-based maintenance is due. In addition, good fleet management software makes it easy to schedule preventive maintenance so it’s sure to be performed on time.

Preventive maintenance also saves fuel by reducing breakdowns. When you avoid a breakdown, you also avoid having to send another vehicle to rescue the driver or provide roadside assistance.

Reduce unnecessary trips

Drivers often make extra trips to pick up tools, other portable assets or goods they left behind. By affixing proximity sensors to these assets and pairing them with the vehicle’s telematics device, drivers can be alerted if a tagged item goes out of range of the vehicle. That way, they won’t drive away without their package, toolbox, signal meter, generator, ladder or pallet jack. One trip saved may not seem meaningful, but these trips add up.

By gaining fuel efficiency wherever you can, you generate savings that drop straight to the bottom line or make your budget stretch further. Rely on your telematics system and fleet management software to help you log fewer miles and burn fewer gallons.

Discover how CalAmp iOn™ can help you reduce the fuel spend for your fleet. Schedule a demo today.