Two Ways to Tackle Rising Fuel Costs

Fuel and driver pay increases show little indication of slowing down. Use these tips to tackle the rising costs of operating your fleet.

Published On: 01/26/2023
Truck at a gas pump
J. J. Keller Editor Rick Malchow

Written by:

Rick Malchow

Industry Business Advisor — J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

The cost of fuel, and transportation in general, increases yearly. The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has studied the trend for over a decade. Last year, the cost of trucking increased to its highest level in fifteen years, to $1.85 per mile traveled.(1) Add to that the 35% year-over-year increase in fuel costs (about $.11 per mile operated), and your operation starts feeling like a defensive end trying to fit into the kicker’s uniform.(2)

Fuel and driver pay increases show little indication of slowing down. You need to prioritize aggressively managing fuel use to make up the difference. Speeding is the place to start.


Per the United States Department of Energy, rolling tire and air resistance due to speeding decrease fuel economy significantly. Vehicles differ in the optimal speed for fuel economy based on size, weight, shape, fuel type, and more. However, the average miles per gallon usually decreases above 50 miles per hour (mph).

Reducing speeds by 5-10 mph can improve fuel economy by 7-14 percent.(3)

It can be hard to convince a driver that they were speeding because “they averaged 60 mph over a 100-mile stretch” and completed the run in an hour and forty minutes. What you need is speed data that authenticates your concerns with the driver. Vehicle trackers provide the hard data that removes the debate and emotion from these difficult conversations.

vehicle tracking solution will show you (and the driver) precisely where and at what speed the unsafe behavior occurred. In addition, rather than having general prohibitions on speeding measured by actual citations (an event that costs money and impacts your CSA score), you can hone in on specific behaviors that put your company, driver, and motoring public at risk.

Speeding doesn’t just impact fuel use. Speeding is a large component of Unsafe Driving. In 2021, regulated drivers received 122,659 speeding violations, with 42% of the violations given for driving ten mph or more over the speed limit and over half of the violations for driving six - ten mph over the speed limit.(4)

Unsafe Driving violations, including speeding, are red flags for many industry partners.

  1. The FMCSA considers speeding a behavior that has a very high correlation to future accident risk.
  2. Insurance companies agree and will offset the risk through higher premium rates. Even if the company makes the driver responsible for speeding tickets, the company pays for the increased liability insurance rates.
  3. If the driver has an accident, a plaintiff’s attorney will investigate what the company did and didn’t do to keep the motoring public safe.

For a deeper dive, download the FREE Mitigating Operational Blindspots whitepaper.


Distance traveled is easily understood as a fuel economy bandit. Often there are many possible routes between two points. The routes, however, are not all created equally. For example, one route from Point A to Point B may be 100 miles and another 125 miles. All other things being equal, the second route would require 25% more fuel than the first.

Humans are creatures of habit, and drivers are no exception, often asserting they “know” the best way. However, even minor, seemingly inconsequential variances can add up – and add up quickly over time. Vehicle tracking enables fleet professionals to create the optimal trip plantaking into account weather, traffic, and delays. It should also provide alerts, geofencing, and reporting to ensure routes are followed, and exceptions are identified.

Vehicle Tracking

The most significant impact of vehicle tracking is the potential to help transform a company’s culture from reactive to proactive. Data alone is not knowledge. While data serves as the foundation of vehicle tracking, a reliable solution will uncover critical incidents and trends — such as speeding and out-of-route miles— and create alerts for immediate action and reporting. When you address these incidents with drivers and staff in near real-time using corrective action training and coaching, the frequency of these incidents decreases rapidly — and cost savings, profitability, and margins go up).

1 An Analysis of the Operations Costs of Trucking 2022 Update. American Transportation Research Institute. August 2022. Arlington, VA.

2 Ibid.

3 Techniques for Drivers to Conserve Fuel. United States Department of Energy - Alternative Fuel Data Center. November 10, 2022.

FMCSA Analysis and Information Online. November 10, 2022.

Encompass Vehicle Tracking screen transparent background

Get 24/7 GPS Fleet Tracking

The Encompass® Fleet Management System offers an easy-to-use GPS vehicle tracking solution that gives you near real-time visibility on all your vehicles without any driver interaction. Automated fuel tax reporting also available.

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