Eco-driving can improve truck fuel economy by up to 22 percent

Eco-driver training and real time driver feedback study

Summary Information

The SmartDrive study evaluated 695 Class 8 tractor-trailers, heavy-duty trucks and drivers across the country to determine fuel use and the effect of eco-driving training combined with in-vehicle, real-time driver feedback on fuel economy. Eco-Driving consists of four basic principles:
  • Accelerate and Decelerate Smoothly: Controlled, even starts and stops make more efficient use of power and require less fuel.
  • Reduce Excess Idling: Turning off the engine while parked reduces fuel consumption, improving overall Miles per Gallon (MPG).
  • Avoid Hard Turning: Anticipating turns and smooth decelerations into and acceleration out of turns improves fuel efficiency.
  • Maintain Consistent Speed: Operating within posted speed limits and anticipating traffic flow helps maintain a consistent speed and optimizes fuel efficiency.
These driving habits have a direct relationship the reducing fuel consumption, operation expenses and vehicle emissions.


The study consisted of two stages; stage one was the control period, stage two was training and instant driver feedback. The study process was as follows:
  • Established baseline metrics: data collection of driving performance for all vehicles in the study during the control period.
  • Determining fuel efficient operating standards for idling, braking, acceleration and cornering based on vehicle type and typical operation.
  • Analyzing data to identify type and severity of maneuvers during control period.
  • Providing driver training on eco-driving best practices and the SmartDrive in-vehicle Instant Driver Feedback (IDF) system.
  • Analyzing data after training and after the IDF lights were activated; comparing the treatment period results to the control period.
Data that was collected for fuel use indicators included: actual fuel use, idling time, acceleration, breaking, turning, and speeding. Driving performance was collected using a mulit-axis accelerometer sensor, high-sensitivity GPS receiver, ECU connection, and LED multi-light bar for driver feedback.


During the control period a baseline average of 5.92 MPG was established. Using the baseline fuel consumption, on average each driver would use 12,127 gallons of fuel a year for a cost of $48,629 a year based on a diesel fuel cost of $4.01 a gallon. Two months after driver training and the IDF system being installed:
  • The average fuel economy was raised 14 percent to 6.73 MPG. That is a total average annual fuel use of 10,667 gallons of fuel and $5,853 saving in fuel a year per vehicle.
  • Of the top 25 percent of performing drivers a 22 percent increase in fuel economy was observed.
  • At an average 7.98 MPG, the annual average fuel use dropped to 8,996 gallons with savings of $12,553 per vehicle over the baseline.

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SmartDrive Fuel Efficiency Study: Commercial Transportation

Author: SmartDrive

Source Date: 2011



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Benefit ID: 2013-00875