Photo: PIT Group

Photo: PIT Group

Driver fuel efficiency and safety training is only effective if it includes refresher courses, according to results from a recent PIT Group study on driver training.

The study found that in-vehicle technologies can reinforce good practices and address weaknesses of drivers, ideally in real time.

“While vehicle technology designed to improve fuel economy continues to advance, driver training is the element that has the largest impact on fuel consumption,” said Yves Provencher director, market and business development at PIT Group. “Our studies show that various ways to train drivers, including classroom, in-cab and simulator training, all have their advantages.”

PIT Group is a research and engineering group focused on improving fleet maintenance and operations in the North American transportation industry.

Provencher also pointed out that learned lessons won’t stick without monitoring behaviors that impact fuel use and safety. Refresher training and in-vehicle coaching technologies help to reinforce those lessons and maintain skills needed to improve safe and efficient operation.

In one study on fuel efficiency performance, PIT Group compared 47 control and 38 test long-haul drivers before and after simulator training that focused on specific elements, including speed, boost pressure, braking, acceleration, and rpm. Initial baseline performance measures were established over a period of two months before test drivers were trained. After training, evaluations were performed at one, three, six and nine months.

“The largest impacts on fuel consumption in long-haul operations were the use of cruise control, proper acceleration and maintaining the correct engine and road speed,” said Provencher. “With close monitoring and communication with drivers, including frequent reminders of how efficiently they were performing, the test data show that long-haul drivers operating a truck an average of 156,000 miles per year could save 2,640 gallons of fuel annually.”

The study also found that fuel-saving technologies have a noticeable effect on efficiency. Drivers with automated transmissions tended to operate more efficiently than those with manual transmissions, leading to a conclusion that AMTs could represent 5% more fuel savings compared with a manual.

“What these and other studies tell us is that training is only effective if it is reinforced with new ideas and structured to include regular reminders,” said Provencher. “Many companies make the mistake of providing the same training year after year without focusing on weaknesses or adding new ideas to make the lessons more interesting and effective.”

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