Fuel Efficient Driving

Running a Fuel Efficient Fleet

Fuel accounts for 20-30% of the total operating costs of your fleet. But how much of it actually ends up earning you money?

Probably not as much as you might like to think. In fact only about one third of the energy in a truck or van’s fuel tank translates into useful mechanical effort at the wheels. So it’s good business practice to make every drop of fuel count.

Case studies of drivers who have adopted safe and fuel efficient driving techniques have consistently shown that they covered the same route in the same time, using less fuel. What’s more they also reported feeling less stressed and fatigued at the end of their shift. So the good news is that by adopting some simple measures you can reduce your fleet’s fuel bills by 5% or more, have happier, healthier drivers and be doing your bit for the environment too.

The Vehicle

  • When selecting vehicles for your fleet, spend some time ensuring that the spec of the vehicle you buy really does suit the operation
  • Make your vehicle as aerodynamic as possible. As much as 80% of the fuel economy benefits on an articulated tractor come from: a roof-mounted air deflector, side collars at the rear of the cab and an under-bumper air dam
  • Sheeting tipper bodies (even when empty) can produce significant fuel savings
  • The height of a trailer or load should be kept to a minimum, to reduce the aerodynamic drag
  • A complete set of the latest low-rolling resistance tyres can give fuel economy gains of up to 6% on long-haul work
  • Check tyre pressures regularly. A 10 psi fall in tyre pressure results in a 1% fall in fuel economy
  • Ensure the vehicle is regularly serviced

Checklist For Drivers

When out on the road, be observant and think ahead. This will enable you to avoid hazards, select a gear that’s appropriate to the situation, keep moving and reduce the number of gear changes. Whenever possible, use dual carriageways and motorways. This results in a more fuel-efficient drive allowing the vehicle to run at its most economical rate.

You should encourage all your drivers to:

  • Know the average fuel consumption of their vehicle
  • Read the vehicle handbook and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Carry out systematic pre-driving and daily checks
  • Report defects promptly
  • Don’t fill fuel tanks to the brim
  • Pull away in the right gear
  • Use an engine’s ‘sweet spot’ to maximise fuel economy

You should encourage your heavy vehicle drivers to:

  • Think ‘low revs, high gear’
  • Skip-shift (block-shift) gears where it is safe to do so
  • Park carefully to avoid early morning manoeuvring when the engine is cold
  • Use cruise control and the exhaust brake

You should encourage your light rigid, multi-drop and van drivers to:

  • Brake in a smooth and progressive way. It saves fuel and reduces stress on the driver, the vehicle and its load
  • Avoid excessive use of the clutch. Rather than holding the vehicle on the clutch and accelerator, use the handbrake instead
  • Avoid over-revving the engine by using the lowest gear possible. Reducing gear changes creates a safer, cleaner environment and reduces engine wear

Checklist for Fleet Managers

  • Assess fuel efficiency as part of driver recruitment process
  • Run a continuous professional development programme. Fuel-efficient driving is part of many driver training modules
  • Consider a bonus scheme based on fuel efficiency
  • Request up-to-date training from vehicle manufacturers
  • Communicate effectively with drivers
  • Run driver league tables on fuel economy averages and appoint a fuel champion
  • Use on-board computers
  • Ensure agency drivers are properly briefed


  • Introducing a fuel management system
  • IT, including telematics, on-board computers and fleet management systems. None of these will, in themselves, save fuel; but the data they produce will help you run a more fuel-efficient fleet

Contact your local Driver Hire Australia office for Safe & Fuel Efficient Driving courses

DISCLAIMER: This resource was prepared as a guide only and should not be taken as an authoritative document. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information, Driver Hire Australia Pty Ltd and its associated companies accept no liability for any errors or omissions.