Prepare now – fuel price increase will hit hard

The fuel price is sky rocketing! Ever-conscious of the transport operator’s bottom line, VIC OLIVER shares his top 12 ways to save fuel.

With the rising cost of crude oil and the 28 cents-per-litre fuel tax levy, economists who analysed the South African National Budget for 2012 believe we are likely to see a drastic increase in fuel prices by the beginning of May.

To reduce the negative impact of this increase, road transport companies have to ensure that their drivers become more professional and improve their driving standards.

Below are 12 ways to reduce fuel consumption:

• The higher the speed, the more fuel is needed to overcome air resistance. Excessive speed, especially over 80 km/h, has a major effect on the amount of fuel used. Discipline is required. Drivers must be made to adhere to permissible speed limits.

• The advanced-driving technique of continuously searching the road ahead and adjusting vehicle speed to suit the road and traffic conditions will result in a smoother driving style, which saves fuel. If advanced driver training is on an operator’s one-day list, that day has come.

• Prevent the bad practice of excessive idling by ensuring there are no air leaks in the vehicle’s braking system. Brake air leaks encourage the driver to idle the vehicle to avoid the time delay in building up air pressure once it’s time to proceed  after a short stop.

• Harsh braking consumes fuel and should only be done in an emergency. If the driver is practising the advanced driving technique described above (continuously searching the road ahead for hazards and driving smoothly), there should be no need for harsh braking. Most long distance drivers, being well-trained and experienced, are able to avoid harsh braking. It’s the drivers in city delivery vans who race from one stop to the next and then slam on the brakes who need training.

• Fuel theft remains common in the road transport industry, and operators need to be continually vigilant in watching for this.

• Fuel spillage is another way fuel is wasted. Regularly inspect fuel tanks for leakage. Fuel tanks often get bumped, or the rubber between the holding straps may get damaged and cause the securing straps to chafe the tank.

• Poor vehicle maintenance is another robber of fuel. Ensure that your vehicles are well maintained and serviced according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations and service schedules.

• Don’t overload. Loading a commercial vehicle beyond the manufacturer’s vehicle maximum rating is very short-sighted and drastically increases fuel consumption.

• Correct tyre pressure will improve fuel consumption and extend tyre life.

• Selecting the right vehicle for the job will optimise fuel consumption and reduce vehicle operating costs. The right vehicle will have sufficient power to maximise the productivity of the vehicle and be able to transport the load safely and within the constraints of Road Traffic Regulations.

• Correct vehicle replacement timing is also important. Once a vehicle reaches the end of its economical life, fuel consumption is often increased.

• Pay attention to the aerodynamics of trailers and loads, and consider the fitment of wind deflectors. These result in major fuel improvements, especially in long distance operations.

Clearly, drivers are the key to optimising vehicle fuel consumption. Training, motivating and awarding drivers for obtaining good fuel consumption is one of the best ways to be fuel savvy.


One of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, VIC OLIVER has been in this industry for 49 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel, 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.

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