Omnitracs' Road Ahead blog

Driving Toward a Sustainable Future


The concept of sustainability has evolved over the years to encompass a wide range of corporate initiatives aimed at conserving resources, improving environmental conditions and functioning more efficiently. Keep reading to see how the transportation and logistics industry is doing its part.

Changing Driving Behavior

Studies show that changing driving behavior can pay off. One report by the American Trucking Association’s Technology and Maintenance Council concluded that more fuel-efficient drivers use 35 percent less fuel than less efficient drivers. The report also showed that more fuel-efficient drivers:

  • Maintain a high, but not maximum, average speed
  • Operate a high percent of the trip distance in top gear
  • Utilize cruise control when possible
  • Minimize the amount of time spent idling
  • Reduce the number of sudden decelerations (hard braking) and accelerations

Drivers can also lower fuel consumption by planning out their routes to consider regional and weather patterns. To encourage drivers, carriers can offer incentives and institute training programs.

Training sessions can come in the form of classroom, online, in-cab and/or driving simulator-based programs. One study conducted by the European Commission concluded that a one-day driver training course could improve fuel efficiency by up to 5 percent. Another study, by Canadian researchers, found that training and driver monitoring can generate up to a 10 percent improvement in fuel efficiency.

Fuel bonus programs typically compensate drivers on a per-mile basis if a particular fuel economy is achieved over a month or a quarter. Programs can create driver fuel scorecards and assign drivers between 50 cents and $8 for every 0.01 mile per gallon they exceed the fleet’s mpg goal.

Making Vehicles More Efficient

Improving vehicles’ efficiency promotes sustainability. Truck manufacturers first started building more fuel-efficient vehicles back in the 1970s to reduce costs during that decade’s energy crisis. Since then, manufacturers have continued to make improvements in aerodynamics by streamlining the front profile and sloping the hood; taking advantage of alternative fuels such as natural gas and renewable diesels; designing more efficiently configured cargo management systems; and creating a new line of electric trucks that are lighter, cheaper to drive and do not generate tailpipe emissions.

Tires can have an effect on truck fuel efficiency. Since tire rolling resistance accounts for up to 30 percent of the energy required to move a line-haul truck, manufacturers are designing lower-friction tires with thinner sidewalls, shallower tread depths, and low rolling resistance materials. An American Transportation Research Institute study showed low-resistance tires can cut fuel consumption by 1-to-3 percent.

Eco-friendly governmental regulations

The public sector is also is playing a role in promoting sustainability in the transportation industry. States pass their own speed limits and curbs on idling. The EPA has run a program over the past decade to fund nearly 60,000 pieces of clean diesel technology through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act. It also established the SmartWay Program, an innovative, voluntary collaboration between carriers, shippers and the government. The program saves SmartWay partners nearly 200 million barrels of fuel, which equates to roughly $28 billion in fuel savings.

In order to promote sustainability, fleets must have visibility into driving behavior and vehicle performance.  See how your fleet can lower operational costs with real-time insight through Omnitracs Performance Monitoring.


Research sources:

European Commission

ATRI research