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July 23, 2013

Why Green Cars Need Greener Drivers



We may have a lot to learn from the “little green men (and women)” that science fiction writers have long predicted would visit planet Earth. A new report from Boca Raton, Fla.-based MiX Telematics, a provider of fleet management solutions, and Britain’s public Transport of London claims that, unless we learn green behaviors, ourselves, the green fleets of cars that automakers are cranking out won’t do us much good.

The two organizations claim that manufacturers only can spend so many resources making new products and vehicles and shipping them around the world before the environmental benefits become more and more limited. They believe that a green fleet involves a much more comprehensive effort than merely investing in hybrid technology or new bio fuels.

Indeed, Transport of London (Tfl) states that “a green fleet will impose specific and continual targets on a company in the areas of lessening environmental impacts, minimizing fuel consumption, lowering carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (and other exhaust pollutants) and promoting more efficient travel”

However, all this must be part of a cycle of sustainability, drawing constant improvements from the resources already available to a fleet—and “nothing epitomizes this ideology more appropriately than driver behavior training.”

TfL has identified three methods of working toward green fleet objectives— and MIX Telematics has described how effective driver training can be in fulfilling these goals

1. Maximizing the efficiency of existing vehicle fleets

Driver training is cited as one of the single most efficient fleet management schemes. Even employed in an independent capacity, it has the potential to drastically reduce the amount of fuel that a fleet needs to use in its daily operations. “Drivers become empowered and alert to the difference that each and every one of them can make to the planet's health and their employer's reputation,” said MiX Telematics.

Training not only makes staff aware of the specifics actions involved in fuel-efficient driving— such as gear management, speed awareness and anticipation—but also can spark a company-wide ideological shift. With typical fuel costs accounting for up to 20 percent of many fleets' overhead expenses, managing fuel via driver behavior makes sound commercial sense

2. Reducing vehicle usage where and when possible—for example, through a workplace travel plan

When awareness of green issues is expanded across a company, significant efficiency savings can be made in areas previously thought to be operating optimally. Drivers and fleet managers will learn how to plan the most efficient route by making use of the latest GPS and traffic mapping technology.

3. Reviewing the choice of alternative fuels and vehicle technologies

In general, different fuel choices have different benefits to different fleets:

  • Liquid petroleum gas, compressed natural gas and petrol hybrids offer reduce nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions.
  • Diesel has higher fuel efficiency and lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, so it is effective when used in high-mileage vehicles.
  • Biodiesel can help further reduce CO2 emissions, but does not offer any significant air quality benefits.

However, no matter how fuel-efficient and ecologically neutral a vehicle is, it will perform poorly with an inefficient driver behind the wheel. What’s more, driver training lends itself perfectly to the supplementary addition of telematics technology—which provides a tangible reference as to where further improvements can be made on an individual driver and fleet-wide basis. As such, telematics is a powerful method available to fleet managers who want to reassess and inform their new cycle of sustainability.




Edited by Rachel Ramsey


Above, the 2013 Nissan Leaf



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