Air pollution from engine emissions is of growing concern. On a global scale, emissions are contributing to increasing levels of CO2 and other gases in the earth’s atmosphere. On a smaller scale, air pollution in large cities is contributing to health problems such as lung and throat diseases. In an effort to combat air pollution and smog, the Italian cities of Milan and Turin have recently placed temporary bans on certain types of vehicles from using the roads. In the UK, excessive idling has been an offence since 2002 according to the Road Traffic Regulations. Yet, more needs to be done.
Within Teletrac Navman’s own research, the Telematics Benchmark Report, found that of companies that use a GPS fleet tracking system, only 25% monitor vehicle idling in their fleet. From conversations with customers across NZ and Australia, it was anecdotally found that reducing idling is not very high on the list of priorities for fleet managers.
With customers that use a fleet management system to improve driver behaviours – including reducing idling – great results have been achieved such as decreased fuel expenditure (12.7% reduction on average to be exact) as well as reduced vehicle wear in tear and maintenance. A focus on reducing idling brings many benefits and should be front of mind for businesses.
The issue with idling
Every minute a vehicle idles unnecessarily, adds up. A considerable sum of money is being spent on fuel that is simply burnt with little or no productive gains.
The US Department of Energy states that idling a heavy-duty truck consumes about 4.5 litres of fuel an hour. This means that a truck that idles for an hour every week, will waste around 234 litres or over $370 of diesel per year (at $1.60 per litre). In a small fleet of ten heavy vehicles, each idling for an hour a week, the cost balloons out to more than $3,700 for the fleet during the course of the year.
The larger the fleet, the larger the issue and the larger the possible savings. Western Australia’s Department of Environment and Conservation calculated that if all light commercial drivers in the state were to reduce idling times by three hours per week for a whole year this will save $12 million in diesel, eight million litres worth of diesel emissions and cut the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere by more than 22,000 tonnes.
Benefits of reducing vehicle idling
Most drivers don’t realise how long they idle their engines for as they drop off a delivery or double check the load is properly secured. Drivers plan to leave the engine idling for only 2 minutes, yet can end up leaving the vehicle for more than 15 minutes after being delayed longer than expected.
GPS fleet tracking systems make it possible to see which vehicles are idling, for how long, which driver is at the wheel and when. Fleet managers can arrange to receive alerts for excessive idling or run periodic reports on individual vehicles and drivers. They can then use this information to identify which drivers have a habit of idling so they can discuss an action-plan to reduce it.
The Telematics Benchmark Report found that 20% of businesses monitor fuel usage and the average fuel reduction for firms that have installed a vehicle tracking system is 12.7%. Monitoring idling across the fleet, and training drivers into switching the engine off when it’s not needed both contribute to this reduction in fuel use.
Another benefit of reduced idling is improved air quality in the immediate surrounds. In the UK, focus has been placed on unnecessary emissions from idling around schools and hospitals. In one example, a sustained awareness campaign to reduce idling outside a primary school led to up a 36% reduction of black carbon in the air around the school. Improved air quality is especially important when you have a number of heavy vehicles in a small area, such as a major transport hub or industrial location such as an airport.
One of the fastest and simplest ways to reduce fuel costs is to eliminate unnecessary idling. Make 2020 the year your business cuts out idling, saving both fuel and emissions, reducing costs and most importantly, doing your part in reducing the business’s carbon footprint.