Brad PenneauOur guest blogger Brad Penneau brings nearly 30 years of motor carrier safety, compliance, risk management and operations experience. Brad has written the manuals on the five motor carrier best-selling, best practices on safety, and has worked for Con-way Freight, Schneider National and UPS.

As someone who’s in charge of a mobile workforce, you understand the importance of measuring your fleet’s safety performance. You likely use many of the established industry standards for measuring performance, including how often your trucks are involved in accidents, their severity, crash type, crashes by day of week or time of day.

However these metrics are generally reactive. What if you had a metric that allowed you to be more proactive about fleet safety?

Did you know that a vehicle’s miles per gallon (MPG) metric can be used as a strong predictive metric for overall fleet safety?

Traditionally, fleet and individual driver MPG performance has been an operational (i.e. cost) measurement. Did you know that it’s also one of the best safety metrics available?

It is no coincidence that the driving behaviors that contribute to maximizing a vehicle’s MPG performance are the exact same behaviors that characterize a safe driver.* The table below explains this in more detail.

Poor MPG Driving Behaviors Unsafe Driving Behaviors
Speeding Driving at 60-65 mph instead of 70-75 mph can improve MPG by up to 27%. Drivers who operate above posted speed limits are 25-55% more likely to be involved in a crash.†
Inconsistent Speed A vehicle is most fuel-efficient when traveling in a straight line at a constant speed. Frequent speeding up and slowing down is unsafe and adds to driver stress.
Sudden Deceleration This reduces a vehicle’s forward momentum and thus wastes fuel. Hard braking is an indicator of aggressive behavior and tailgating is dangerous.
Quick Acceleration Although not typical of a heavy commercial motor vehicle, aggressive up-shifting and excessive RPMs can reduce MPG as much as 5%. Puts the driver at risk of rear-end collisions if the vehicle in front suddenly slows down or stops.
Following Distance By keeping a reasonable following distance, drivers can coast to a stop instead of braking, which wastes fuel. Maintaining a safe following distance is among the best defensive driving tools a driver can use.
Unnecessary Stops and Out-of-Route Miles A properly planned and well-executed trip is invariably the most fuel efficient. Every time a driver slows down, stops, turns, backs up, parks, starts or accelerates is an opportunity for a crash. The more of these activities that can be eliminated, the safer the driver (and those around them) will be.
With MPG as a clear indicator of fleet and individual driver behavior, include this as a key metric, to help minimize fuel usage and monitor safe driving.

*Combine Telogis Fleet with Telogis Coach to coach drivers in real time using in-cab alerts.
† American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), Predicting Truck Crash Involvement, 10/05.