A recent survey of 380 fleets operating everything from over-the-road tractor trailers to delivery trucks and buses found that the price of fuel tops their list of worries, with reducing costs related to crashes coming in a distant second.
Conducted by safety management firm GreenRoad between Oct. 31 and Nov. 7, the survey – entitled Top-of-Mind Concerns of Today’s Fleet Leadership – asked fleet managers to rank their biggest and most important challenges, with 40% saying saving money by reducing fleet fuel consumption is their top goal, and 21% citing a need to reduce crash costs. By contrast, only 8% identified cutting emissions to meet environmental-related objectives as a top concern, GreenRoad noted.
“This tells us that fleet owners and managers understand that fuel cost is a major lever in their financial success; a lever that they must aggressively manage for best results,” Tanya Roberts, senior vice president-marketing for GreenRoad, told Fleet Owner. “It is also tells us that fleet leaders across North America are still searching for solutions and technology to help them meet their cost savings and safety improvement goals.”
She also noted that when fleet managers participating in the survey were asked if they agreed with the statement, “Beyond everything else, fuel cost is the top issue facing my operation,” over half, 51%, either agreed or somewhat agreed.
Those survey findings, though, are somewhat unsurprising as the price of diesel fuel has surged nearly 30 cents per gallon over the last six weeks.
According to data tracked by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. average price for diesel jumped from $3.721 per gallon during the week of October 10 to $4.010 per gallon by the week of Nov. 21, before falling nearly five cents to $3.964 per gallon this week.
GreenRoad’s poll also revealed that only 37% of those fleet managers it surveyed implemented a new fuel-saving initiative in the past 12 months. Of those that did, they posted mixed results, with 25% failing to set objectives for their fuel saving program and nearly one-fifth reporting that they didn’t meet fuel efficiency program goals or objectives.
“As important as fuel is, very few fleet leaders have invested in or enacted a fuel savings program,” Roberts said. “Of those that did, a quarter didn’t set objectives for the program, and of those that did, nearly one-fifth said they did not meet their goals or objectives. Without measurable objectives, fleets couldn’t discern whether or not their programs were meeting set goals.”
She also pointed out that an overwhelming majority of GreenRoad’s survey respondents, 94%, said that improving driving performance will have a major beneficial impact on fleet costs, while just 19% agreed that their drivers are true professionals and probably do not have much room for improvement.
“This tells us that fleet leaders are aware of the important link between driver performance and fuel consumption and crash incidents, which also drive up costs,” Roberts noted.