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Which Routes are Really the Most Fuel-Efficient? - Pt 1

Posted by Wilmar, Inc.

efficient routes

With a fleet of trucks or business vehicles, planning your routes is one of the most important business decisions you can make. 

The routes determine how long your drivers will be out there, what order they make the stops in, and the fuel efficiency of the entire day of driving. Considering fuel efficiency, in fact, adds a whole new layer to your route planning strategy.

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Not only are you considering the fastest routes to drive, but also the routes that require the least fuel to pull off efficiently.

But what truly determines a fuel-efficient route? What makes a route more fuel-efficient than any other route, and how can you hunt down the exact right roads and loops to send your drivers down? We're about to lay it all out piece by piece.

Factors of Fuel-Efficient Routing

  • Total Drive Time

  • Road Speeds

  • Traffic Flow

  • Road Drag

  • Rough Roads

  • Quick Stops


Total Driving Time Per Route

The first calculation for both route speed and fuel efficiency is how long each driver is out on the route. The total driving time per route, naturally, determines something of how much fuel was used. Shorter routes use less fuel in general, but geographically longer routes can take less fuel if the speeds and ability to coast without gunning the engine are correct.

Start by recording the total time of each route your drivers take and begin calculating for the fastests and shortest routes. By recording gas levels before and after a route, you can also gain an insight into each routes total speed and fuel efficiency together.

The easiest way to calculate your total driving time per route is with software. Driving apps that interface with your vehicles and track routes are ideal for fleet management. You can not only track the total time like a stopwatch, you can also mark out specific routes and use the software for stop-by-stop calculations.


Speeds Permitted and Required En Route

The speeds permitted and the speeds required by each route also influence your gas mileage. When your drivers are free to drive quickly and to coast at high speeds for efficiency, you will use less gas per mile. But if your drivers are forced to gun the engine beyond it's ideal cruising speed on high-speed roads, you may use more fuel than necessary.

Of course, you already know that the opposite is true. If your drivers are forced to go slow, they'll be constantly nursing the engine which uses more fuel than you would ideally need to make it from stop to stop. Faster speeds are usually better, but it helps to know the ideal cruising speeds of your fleet vehicles and prioritize roads that cruise smoothly at that pace, which takes us to the next point.

It takes a really good map to show you speed limits and reflect how fast cars really drive on the indicated roads. Building your own map with driver-provided details may be your best method for gathering the road speed info you need.


Stop-Start Daytime Traffic vs Smooth Sailing

The ability to cruise is essential for fuel efficiency. Vehicles are most efficient when they can build up momentum and inertia and coast along at a steady speed, using only a little gas to keep up the pace. This makes time of day an important part of your route planning. Some highways and surface streets may be free & clear most of the day, but grid-lock during rush hour.

Stop-and-go daytime traffic can kill your route times and your fuel efficiency while open streets are ideal. Keep the time of day and traffic situation in mind when you're calculating the most optimal routes. Not only can you rely on existing traffic tools and the experience of your drivers, but with routing software you can also mark out which routes to take based on time of day.

[Continued in Part 2

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Topics: Fleet Safety, Fleet Management, Fleet Tracking


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