Good, bad or ugly driving habits can dramatically impact your bottom line depending on the driver’s overall experience behind the wheel and the technology inside the trucks. Inexperienced drivers tend to have unrefined driving habits compared to seasoned drivers, partly due to:
Shift Habits & Operating in the Wrong Gear | Frequent Speed Changes | Longer Idle Times
Shift Habits & Operating in the Wrong Gear:
Fleets may see fuel economy drop with inexperienced drivers, or drivers that are not familiar with newer technology, which results in poor shifting behavior. For example: drivers may run the engine RPM too high before upshifting or run a gear lower than necessary at highway cruising speeds. Since driver shift habits play an important role in fuel economy, you can use these best practices to help drivers make informed decisions when driving:
#1: Explain the benefits of modern engines & transmissions and that they produce peak torque at lower RPMs. Today’s engines achieve torque at 1000 RPMs.
#2: Drivers should get to the next highest gear as soon as the vehicle can handle the load to achieve maximize fuel efficiency and they should maintain that gear selection as long as possible.
These two principles are less impactful on semi-trucks that are equipped with AMTs and Automatic transmissions. MHC representatives are also available to participate in driver training meetings as requested to help coach teams on best practices behind the wheel.
Frequent Speed Changes:
Often terrain, road conditions and day-to-day traffic will affect frequent speed changes but with the right engine software in place this encourages drivers to operate the truck more efficiently through Speed Control Management (SCM) software. The SCM software helps drivers operate their truck efficiently and it consists of two components:
Progressive Shift (PGS) & Gear Down Protection (GDP):
PGS: Soft engine speed limit, encourages the driver to shift earlier and get into higher gears as quickly as possible
GDP: Hard engine speed limit’s purpose is to prevent the operator from running the truck one gear down at typical operating speed.
To coach drivers and manage fuel economy, Kenworth trucks are equipped with several key systems to help achieve the highest miles per gallon including the sweet spot indicator and the Driver Shift Aid feature:
Sweet Spot Indicator: shows drivers where the optimal RPM should be with a green LED display on the tachometer.
Driver Shift Aid: is available on a manual or an AMT in manual mode and provides gear shift advice and can recommend skip or split shifts leaving the guesswork behind for drivers.
Longer Idle Times:
It is important that drivers are aware that idling regulations vary by state and by idling a truck’s engine it can be pricey for fleets of all sizes. Even if a driver is only idling during the mandated rest time, a fleet’s budget can be devastated over a short period of time. Alternative options to idling a truck’s engine include these options:
Battery-Based Heater/Air Conditioner (Kenworth KIMS)
Auxiliary Power Units
Driver Coaching Tools:
MHC Truck Leasing offers Blue Tree telematics on all its vehicles, offering driving style management features and identifying all events such as excessive idling, harsh braking, speeding, use of cruise control and more. These tools easily identify areas where drivers and fleet managers can improve performance, saving you up to 10 percent in fuel costs and improve road safety.