Lee Wolstenholme's blog: 8 August - Inefficient driving habits are largely unsurprising
08 August 2016
I admire the various points of encouragement made by the Energy Savings Trust in their latest report on business fleet vehicles.
Helping to save a combined figure of around £1 billion each year by driving more efficiently undoubtedly appeals to UK businesses and particularly their fleet, finance and HR managers, keen on continually improving bottom lines and CSR policies.
The EST has found that SMEs consider fuel efficiency to be the second-most important factor in choosing certain vehicles over others and a reasonably encouraging 10% of small firms say they're very likely to seek advice on fuel savings. It's commendable that the EST is offering free-of-charge Green Fleet Reviews but with less than a quarter of the aforementioned ten percent knowing who they can turn to for advice, it's clear that contract hire and leasing brokers need to shout louder to promote the free fleet review services that many of us offer.
Fleets can cut their fuel bills by 15% within a short space of time just by driving more efficiently, according to the EST, and even if bullish driving styles creep back in again for many of their drivers, SMEs should still enjoy a fuel economy improvement of 5% in the long-term.
Driving more efficiently can prove quite enjoyable and give drivers a warm, fuzzy feeling, but only if the circumstances are right. It's no surprise that some fleet managers are still cynical over the likelihood of getting their drivers to restrain their heavy right feet. I say this because during most journeys I make, I encounter delays caused by relentless road works, jams created by the sheer volume of traffic, and tailbacks resulting from accidents. Heck, our marketing manager recently even encountered crawling traffic on the northbound M6 at 11:30pm at night. Having driven back from an event on the south coast, the natural tendency for he and any driver once delays clear is to put their foot down - to the detriment of efficiency.
With smart motorway upgrades meaning tedious 50mph zones on long stretches of the M6, M60 and other motorways around the country, along with utilities companies digging up random patches of road in many narrow towns, and accidents causing chaos on the road network, company car drivers are only likely to drive more efficiently if they themselves are rewarded in return. Knowing that they're doing their bit for the environment and contributing to their organisation's financial success and CSR efforts isn't really enough to encourage drivers to accelerate away smoothly. They're human and just want to get from one place to the next as quickly as possible.
It's ironic to recall that one firm praised for rewarding good driving is Devon-based Amberon Limited, a traffic management and temporary traffic lights specialist who plumped for the Quartix Driver ID system for vehicle behaviour monitoring. Their fleet includes a number of Renault Twizy EVs so they're clearly not ones to let the grass grow when it comes to vehicle technology adoption. It's exciting to see telematics gamification and rewards being used by more and more organisations and hopefully more purely app-based solutions like Appy Fleet and RSA Smart Fleet will be introduced soon to share the love with grey fleet drivers too.