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Reduce Truck Idling to Cut Fleet Fuel Costs

  • April 13, 2022
  • Long Dinh
  • Reading Time: 3 minutes
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Hundreds of Cars, Semi-Trucks,,and trailers lined up for miles on a remote secondary highway waiting for the ferry. A tedious 3 miles and 12 hours later we got on a ferry. The actual line was 30 miles long. Rouzes/iStock Truck telematics can increase your fleet’s fuel efficiency by helping you identify and curb excessive idling.

With fuel prices what they are today, fleet managers need to conserve every gallon of diesel in order to protect the bottom line. This reality lends new urgency to combatting truck idling. Managers who reduce idling with the help of truck telematics cut their fleet fuel costs while also reducing emissions, another critical goal. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, commercial vehicle idling is responsible for wasting 3 billion gallons of fuel and releasing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.

How much fuel does a semi burn idling?

A typical semi uses nearly a gallon of diesel for each hour the engine idles. That can add up to thousands of dollars in fleet fuel costs per truck per year. What’s more, the wear and tear caused by excessive truck idling leads to additional maintenance costs and premature vehicle replacement.

Idling data provided by a telematics-based fleet management system can help companies curb these expenses — and also avoid idling fines.

Increasingly, many cities and states with anti-idling laws are imposing heavy penalties for truck idling. Long-haul, for-hire and last-mile delivery fleet managers must know the applicable laws along each route and share that information with drivers to help ensure compliance.

Identify when and where your drivers are idling

To reduce truck idling, cut back on fuel waste and avoid costly penalties, you must know when and where your trucks are idling. 

Some truck idling is unavoidable. In hot or cold weather, drivers need to control the climate in the cabin, even when they’re not driving. This might mean hours of idling while they sleep or pause at a rest stop to remain in compliance with hours of service requirements. Drivers also need to idle at red lights, when stopped or slowed in traffic, to keep cargo at an appropriate temperature, to build up the air pressure needed for safe brake use or to operate an auxiliary appliance that runs on engine power. But some drivers develop bad idling habits, and it’s those drivers who run up your fuel costs unnecessarily.

With a telematics-based fleet management system such as CalAmp iOn™, you can use idling reports to view idling data across your entire fleet and drill down into idling behavior for each driver. In iOn, idling reports include not only the time and location of each idling event but also working idling time and wasted idling time. You can view a driver’s idle minutes per stop and total idle minutes per day.

Reports can be scheduled to run automatically at preset intervals and can also be generated manually as needed.

If you don’t need to track idling on a regular basis but you want to keep tabs on the most egregious idling, simply generate an exception report.

Use long idle alerts to tackle truck idling in real time

Sometimes it pays to catch the worst idling offenders in the act so you can step in and take action before more fuel is wasted, and before someone reports the truck for an idling violation. iOn allows you to react to long idling in real time with the help of long idle alerts.

These alerts can be configured based on idling time parameters you define. You may choose to be alerted after 20 or 30 minutes of idling, for instance. You can even choose to limit idling alerts to specific drivers or specific vehicles.

The more you know about your drivers’ idling habits, the better you can identify drivers who need additional training around when and why to turn off their engine.

Calculate the cost of truck idling to your fleet

How much is idling hurting your organization in terms of fleet fuel costs? If you don’t know, you can find out using telematics-based fleet management software. In iOn, once you enter your trucks’ fuel cost per gallon, idling reports show you both your working idling costs and your wasted idling costs. They also reveal your carbon footprint as measured in metric tonnes of carbon emitted by your vehicles.

Fleet fuel costs are the number one budget item for many trucking businesses, accounting for as much as 60% of operating expenses. By reducing truck idling, you can make your fuel budget stretch further. Idling data from a fleet management system can help you enforce your idling policy, identify drivers who violate it and reward drivers who set an example of behavior that’s good for the company and the planet.


Learn how CalAmp iOn™ can help you reduce idling in your fleet. Schedule a demo today.

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