The trucking industry faces many risks in its operations. With millions of miles traveled and millions of tons of cargo transported each year, the role of risk management in trucking cannot be overlooked. In many cases, trucking companies have little control over outside risks, particularly that of fuel expenses. While trucking insurance protects against a broad range of risks, saving money on overhead costs like fuel is a critical component of risk management for commercial transportation companies. In this guide, we will explore ways trucking companies can save money on fuel costs.
Fuel Expenses: Fluctuating Prices and Logistical Hurdles
For trucking companies, fuel is often the largest annual operating expense, representing about 39% of the total operating cost of each vehicle. A single truck can easily consume $70,000 worth of diesel fuel in a year. Naturally, fluctuations in fuel pricing have an outsized effect on the industry. As fuel prices rise, those costs are typically passed onto consumers and shipping partners. As fuel prices continue to increase, entire supply chains may be affected. Competition with other trucking companies is an unpleasant side effect of fuel price increases as well; companies that operate more efficiently gain significant market advantages over those companies struggling to manage fuel expenses. Trucking insurance protects against many risks, but competition for market share is not one of the insurance coverages.
Four Tips for Saving Fuel
As fuel prices continue to rise in 2021, trucking companies are seeking ways of managing these costs. Commercial trucking interests have developed numerous ways of controlling costs; here are four industry best practices to implement:
- Reducing speeds. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, driving slower can actually slash fuel expenses. Tractors and semi-trailers operate more efficiently at lower speeds, boosting miles per gallon. This serves to reduce costs-per-mile, potentially saving thousands of dollars per truck each year.
- Using vehicle cruise control systems. Cruise control eliminates the need for excessive acceleration and braking, two driving factors that burn more fuel. Adaptive cruise control systems improve efficiency while maintaining safe speeds. Drivers who utilize these systems report fuel savings of 10 to 40 percent over the course of a year.
- Attending to vehicle maintenance. Keeping trucks in peak operating condition is a critical aspect of the industry. With routine (and required) daily vehicle inspections part of the operating environment, drivers can spot issues that lead to fuel waste before they can cause unnecessary expenses. Tire pressure, alignment, and lubrication/filtration are all factors that can influence fuel use.
- Reducing idle time. Every hour of vehicle idling can burn as much as one gallon of fuel. Truckers may idle vehicles for hours each day, racking up unnecessary fuel expenses. By adopting the use of auxiliary power units (APUs), or by shutting off vehicles during fueling or cargo handling operations, fuel costs can be reduced by as much as $5000 per year.
More Fuel Savings Tips
To supplement the protections of trucking insurance, transportation companies have many options available to save on fuel expenses. The above tips can help save thousands of dollars in fuel each year. In addition to those tips, route planning and scheduling can have powerful effects on overhead expenses. First, planning truck routes to avoid congestion and to find the most efficient path between destinations can save money on fuel. Second, avoiding deadheading by scheduling full loads can not only improve efficiency in the overall operation, but it can save on fuel. Third-party trucking logistics systems are a valuable investment for trucking companies at the mercy of fuel pricing. With these systems and with the protection of trucking insurance, commercial vehicle operators can handle whatever the road throws at them.
About Western Truck Insurance Services
Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!