Reduce fuel costs: 10 Ways to Save Money for Delivery Drivers
Every delivery driver needs to reduce fuel costs right now. So here's 10 tips from Pete the Courier Driver to help you drive more efficiently and save money.
In a world of increasing competition, knowing how to reduce fuel costs is vital.
Driving your vehicle with fuel efficiency in mind helps you to save money, get home earlier, and be less stressed.
Learning how to reduce fuel costs doesn’t have to be difficult, either. Thanks to new technology like cruise control and route optimization tools, drivers no longer have to rely on traditional methods like map books and manual coasting.
Ready to save money? These are the 10 best ways to reduce fuel costs.
Why are fuel prices so high?
It's not surprising that we delivery drivers are more worried about our fuel bills than the cost of living. Inflation is the highest concern for Americans in a recent eMoney Advisor survey.
For instance, fuel prices increased massively in the past few years–which is alarming when you have to rely on gas every day to do your job. The higher the fuel costs, the less money you take home.
So what’s happening?
Gas prices are at a record high due to rising oil prices. In fact, AAA reported that the average price of a gallon of gasoline recently reached an all-time high at $4.17, compared to $ 2.77 in 2021, which is a 50% increase in just two years!
Today, a barrel of oil sells for almost $130 per litre, with even higher prices now due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
So oil prices do have a big impact on the price of gas at the pump.
But, did you also know that averaging 30 miles per gallon from your vehicle could save you $460 every year? So it stands to reason that driving efficiently is the easiest way to reduce fuel costs right now.
10 fuel-efficient driving strategies for delivery drivers
#1 Ease off your gas pedals
As delivery drivers, we have a tendency to fly around absolutely everywhere–but one of the easiest ways to reduce fuel costs is by easing off the gas pedal. This will help you save money and avoid unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicle.
If you're going up the freeway doing 70 miles per hour, the difference between 62 and 70 miles per hour on your rev counter is the difference between 2,000 and 3,000 revs.
That means, if you're going 60 miles per hour, your engine is going 2,000 revs a minute. If you're going 70 miles per hour, it's going 3,000 revs a minute, which means your engine is working half as much again for an extra 10 miles an hour. It's not worth it.
Also, it’s not just the engine you need to think about when it comes to reducing fuel costs. It's the oil you're going through and it's the filters you need to replace because everything in the engine is working much harder.
You want to slow down just a little bit. It won't make that much difference on your day or the time at your stops, but it will make a difference in your fuel costs.
You should also try to maintain a steady speed so that you don't waste energy accelerating and decelerating, and avoid idling at red lights as much as possible.
#2 Optimize your delivery routes
Another way to reduce fuel costs while delivering packages is to optimize your route with a routing app like Circuit Route Planner. With a simple click, you can identify the quickest route, avoid traffic, and reduce driving stress all while staying on schedule
With free route optimization apps like Google Maps, you can use its "My Location" feature to plan your stops route accordingly. But it does have its limitations when it comes to the number of stops you can optimize at once time.
I recommend Circuit Route Planner. It integrates with Google Maps and Waze, so you can always avoid traffic and get live updates. Plus, it has a handy feature called Fast Package Finder which means you can say where the package is as you load it into the truck. Then, as you reach each stop, a notification will tell you where it’s located in your vehicle. That avoids unnecessary idling whilst you’re digging around looking for a package, and saves you a bunch of time, too.
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#3 Reduce your vehicle weight
If you can make your vehicle lighter, it will naturally be more fuel-efficient, with lower operating costs.
To reduce fuel costs, have a look around your vehicle and decide what you don't need every day. If it isn’t essential, get it off. This will save you two things:
Firstly, it will save you mucking around, trying to get stuff out of the way when you're loading and unloading.
Secondly, the weight will affect the amount of fuel you use. The heavier the vehicle, the heavier the load, the more fuel you're going to go through, so keep your vehicle as light as you possibly can.
#4 Maintain your vehicle
You want to maintain your vehicle the best you can. If it is working in tip-top condition, then it will be running at its most efficient. And if it's running its most efficient, it would use the least gas and reduce fuel costs.
Keeping your car in good condition is important. It is not just about the cost of maintaining it but also about the safety of driving it.
One way to maintain your vehicle is to change the oil every 3,000 miles. This keeps the engine lubricated and running smoothly. You should also keep your tires inflated and clean them regularly.
Finally, you should check for any signs of wear or damage on your car before each trip.
#5 Switch off your air conditioning
Air conditioning can be a major drain on your fuel economy, and can be expensive to use. That’s because the engine is working hard to pump the coolant around the system.
If the engine is pumping the coolant around the system, the engine is running faster. If the engine is running faster, you're using more fuel. It's that straightforward.
So turn off the AC when you’re driving at low speeds or idling. This will help you reduce fuel costs and keep your engine running smoothly.
#6 Keep your windows closed
People often ask if I have air conditioning in my vehicle. My answer is always, “Yes. If I want it on half, I wind down one window. If I want it in full, I wind down both windows.”
But the problem with having your windows open is that you're creating drag. And drag slows the vehicle down as it creates wind resistance.
The more air that enters your vehicle, the more drag it experiences. Your car will then use more fuel to keep up with the air pressure, which is needed to keep a constant speed.
So you want your vehicle to be as smooth and as aerodynamic as possible so that you can reduce fuel costs.
#7 Change your gears earlier
One of the easiest ways to improve the fuel efficiency of your car is by changing gears earlier.
Changing gears earlier is all about the revs. If you're up to 3,000 revs because you're going 70 miles per hour rather than 2,000 revs because you're going 60 miles per hour, you're doing half as much again.
For example, if you accelerate slowly and do not use the gas pedal too much at intersections, it will help if you keep your car in a lower gear. If you're driving on a highway, it's always better to speed up gradually and not wait until you are near the speeding limit before doing so.
Try to drive smoothly, with nice early changes, and, above all, listen to your engine.
#8 Use trucks to slipstream
Slipstreaming is a driving technique where you can drive in the space between the lead vehicle and the next. As a delivery driver, you can make use of slipstreaming to reduce your fuel costs.
The word “slipstream” comes from aerodynamics, which refers to the air flowing past an object. All you need do is tuck yourself in behind a vehicle in front. Either a big vehicle, or one of the same size, and then that vehicle takes the wind resistance off of you.
This is less aggravation, less work on the engine, and less fuel consumption because you're not fighting the wind, the vehicle in front is.
#9 Coast to decelerate
Coasting is a driving technique that is used to reduce fuel costs. When you coast, you drive your car without using the engine. This type of driving is usually done when you need to slow down or stop, but do not want to use your brakes.
Decelerating is when you gradually slow down or stop your vehicle by using your brakes or other means like coasting. Slowing down gradually can help you save gas.
In order to decelerate your vehicle, you should take your foot off the gas pedal and let your car slow down on its own. You can also use your brakes if you need to stop more quickly. Slowing down gradually will help you avoid skidding and will also reduce your fuel consumption. If you have a hill or open road ahead, then let the road or hill do the work for your vehicle whilst you stay in gear and in control.
Also, The RAC recommend that you use cruise control because driving the same speed all the time, is very efficient.
Similarly, if you notice that other vehicles are slowing down ahead, take your foot off the accelerator, coast, and just let the natural momentum of the vehicle take you up to the lights before you break. You will save energy and you will save fuel.
#10 Increase your safety bubble
You know the saying, “Only a fool breaks the two-second rule”. This is what I call the safety bubble. It is the distance between you and the car in front.
The 2-second rule is a simple way to improve your gas economy and reduce fuel costs. It means that you should take at least two seconds to decelerate from 60 miles per hour to 40 miles per hour. Slowing your vehicle down gradually allows the engine to idle and release heat, which reduces the amount of fuel you need.
Leave a big space in front of you and that way you've got the time to anticipate sudden changes on the road.
Also, you won’t have to slam your breaks hard if the traffic suddenly decelerates, risking an accident or wasting fuel. Instead, you can just ease off the accelerator, and let the vehicle slow down on its own momentum.
3 parking strategies for fuel-efficient delivery driving
Parking strategies are a vital part of fuel-efficient delivery driving. Proper parking can reduce fuel costs by up to 10% per day and can make a significant difference in your total delivery driving cost.
But, as a delivery driver, sometimes parking can be almost impossible. Here are my three tips to help you to park almost every time.
#1 Use your hazards
Hazards are your friend. Your hazard lights are supposed to be used if you've broken down or if the traffic suddenly starts decelerating. But they have other handy uses too.
Say you're going to park somewhere and won't be there for too long, by using your hazards, your lights will blink, which lets other road users know that they need to go around you.
Sometimes, you can't park four or five streets away to run the package. You're on the clock and you have to get the load off. If you use your hazards, it gives you the time to run in, do the drop, and run out again.
#2 Use a laminated sign
If you’re delivering packages, you need to make sure that you can park. A laminated sign can be a useful tool to let people know you won’t be idling in an awkward place for ages.
The best technique I’ve found is to have, "Driver on delivery" and your cell phone number. Most of the time, you won’t actually get any calls. People just like to know that you won’t be blocking their drive for hours. It’s about the courtesy of keeping them informed.
#3 Call the customer
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you simply cannot park. Then what do you do?
You should call the customer and explain so that they can help or reimburse you. This also gives them time to prepare themselves for your arrival.
For instance, I used to drop fridges around London. Mostly to shops that were on double yellow lines, or a red route–meaning absolutely no parking. Which was tough because I had to take them from the truck, onto the sack barrow, and around the back of the shop for delivery.
So I would call the customer when I was near, tell them where I was, and most of the time they’d authorize to pay the ticket. But without calling ahead, you will need to cover the cost of the parking fine. So it’s always worth doing that just to check.
Finally, they know the local area so they may be able to point you in the right direction for a closer parking lot, or bay that you can use.
Conclusion: Reduce fuel costs
As a delivery driver, you spend a lot of time on the road. That means you need to make sure you’re reducing your fuel costs as much as possible. Gasoline is expensive, especially at these prices, but there are things you can do to increase your fuel efficiency and save money.
Make sure that you don't add hundreds of dollars to your yearly fuel costs by practising the 10 efficiency techniques in this article.