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Published August 5, 2014 | By SECCCA
In the first four months since EcoDriver training was provided to one of our participating councils, they have recorded over $23,000 in fuel savings – directly attributed to implementation of the program.
Eco-driving is a concept that involves working with the operators of heavy vehicles to introduce more fuel efficient driving behaviours.
To date, the concept has been promoted in a very broad sense and includes everything from traditional ‘smooth driving’ practices to the adoption of practices supported by innovative in-cab information systems – systems that provide information about the optimum throttle position for a given load and speed.
At a practical level, this strategy involves retraining drivers and there are a growing number of commercial providers of eco-driving programs for light and heavy vehicle fleets in Australia.
The theory behind eco-driving is straightforward – by encouraging drivers to adopt more fuel efficient driving practices, the average fuel consumption of the vehicle can be reduced. This in turn delivers reduced fuel costs for fleet operators and lower greenhouse emissions and air pollution for the community.
Some studies have shown that eco-driving programs can (a) deliver significant fuel savings, (b) reduce driver stress levels, (c) increase driver confidence in vehicle handling, and (d) contribute to greater levels of overall job satisfaction.
Countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom have been running voluntary driver behaviour change programs for a number of years, but the potential to reduce emissions through driver behaviour change in Australia remains largely unexplored.
While some Australian pilot programs have suggested fuel savings in the order of 14%, there is currently very little in the way of reliable information about the real-world economic and environmental benefits that can be realised via eco-driving.
As a consequence, the actual benefits of eco-driving programs are subject to a significant level of uncertainty.
Eco-driving programs are most effective for fleets that are operating in urban stop-start conditions, given that driver behaviours can significantly influence fuel consumption rates for vehicles operating under these conditions.
These programs tend to be relatively ineffective if vehicles are predominantly operating at wide-open throttle and/or spending large periods of time operating under cruise control (e.g. linehaul applications).