The Effects of Harsh Driving on Fuel and Vehicles

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One of the great television-viewing guilty pleasures in the ‘90s, before we all had 1,000 channels and Netflix, was the show “COPS” – some weeks, it seemed to be on every time you flipped on the TV.

The most exciting parts of the show were the car chases. Real-time aerial and ground footage showed “the men and women of law enforcement” speeding along highways and back alleys, trying to apprehend a suspect (remember, he or she wasn’t a bad guy until “proven guilty in a court of law”).

Viewers at home could watch suspects careening around other drivers, taking corners like a madman, ramming other cars, driving a zillion miles an hour and doing anything to escape the long arm of the law.

And just imagine the effects of driving like that on the cars – police and getaway vehicles alike.

Fleet owners and managers know that terrible driving affects safety, but it affects the bottom line, too. Speeding on the highway can reduce fuel economy by as much as 33 percent, according the Department of Energy, and that adds up – take your total fuel budget for the year and add 33 percent, and we bet you’ll be saying, “Gulp.”

Braking harshly even affects fuel costs – of course, there are always times when people need to hit the brakes to prevent an accident, but if it’s because people are driving too fast, it’s unnecessary, and can cause other maintenance issues like replacing brake parts more frequently or front-end alignment issues.

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Taking corners hard affects both fuel costs and vehicle – if someone has to take a corner hard, it’s because they didn’t slow down enough to take it normally, and that puts stress on the vehicle. If your driver is transporting goods or equipment, they might get jostled in the turn and damaged, and replacing them isn’t free. Oh, and did we mention safety, if pedestrians are crossing the road and can’t get out of the way?

Now, we’re not saying your drivers are like the suspects on “COPS” and intentionally driving crazy. Sometimes he or is just trying to get to a job a little faster by putting the pedal to the metal – assuming that a quicker arrival time will please the customer and the boss – but is actually costing the business more.

GPS vehicle tracking gives a business eyes on the driving styles of all employees – whether they’re on their best behavior or need a little nudge to remind them to slow down. 

The system monitors speed, idle times, harsh braking and fuel usage across all vehicles and all drivers, giving managers actionable data. And it doesn’t just spit out a ton of confusing numbers and metrics – managers can run reports on each individual vehicle or each driver, or calculate something like fuel cost for the whole fleet in a month, or how much fuel one driver uses versus another for the same number of miles driven.

It sounds like it would be a lot to take in – but it’s actually easy to understand. The reports are simple bar charts that do all the calculating for you on stuff like engine ‘on’ hours or wasted fuel and give you clear answers, so you can put away your calculators and abacus and just get to work fixing the problems.

So next time you’re looking at a pile of receipts and wondering how your fuel costs got so high, or the next time you’re fixing the brakes on a vehicle for the umpteenth time, just remember that GPS vehicle tracking is there to help.

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