Driver behind the wheel Raising driver awareness is key to the application of eco-driving techniques - Photo credits ©: fr.fotolia.com/rezulteo.com

The offer for low rolling resistance tyres is multiplying and tyre manufacturers are competing in the chemical and mechanical fields to improve mileage performance. However, the first factor to make savings remains... human!

Electronics to promote eco-driving

Eco-driving not only concerns passenger cars with their indicators to change gear or their Start/Stop. More and more truck professionals, in charge of fleets, have understood that the “eco” prefix stands for “ecology” and “economy”, a concept with clear implications for the transport world. The application of eco-driving techniques means training and raising the awareness of drivers, whose behaviour behind the wheel greatly impacts fuel consumption and tyre wear. Smooth driving and anticipation are the two basic principles behind eco-driving. The driver must avoid any abrupt acceleration, when changing gear, braking and cornering. By adapting his driving style to the road topography, he can also use the vehicle’s momentum to reduce engine loads when driving uphill.

Dashboard information is an essential aid. For example, temperature indicators indicate when the engine has reached its nominal operating temperature. As long as this is not the case, it is best to avoid over-revving the engine since this causes excessive fuel consumption. The development of electronic systems can also be used to save fuel. The use of adaptive cruise controls or Internet connected GPS devices (for traffic information) is becoming widespread to make driving much smoother, even in areas the driver is not familiar with.

 

The right pressure to consume less

Nevertheless, knowing one’s vehicle remains a key factor for fuel savings. In addition to engine characteristics, the driver must also pay attention to the state of the truck he is driving. For large fleets, the fleet manager makes sure that vehicles are maintained and monitored, and that includes the tyres. On a complete rig including a truck-tractor with a trailer, rolling resistancecontributes to approximately 30% of fuel consumption. This is only down to tyres, the only contact between the road and the vehicle.  A wrong tyre pressure, whether it is above or below the manufacturer’s recommendations, results in over consumption and abnormal tyre wear.  It is therefore important to check tyre pressures regularly. The TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) is an on-board electronic system that provides tyre pressure information in real time allowing drivers to react quickly in the event of a slow puncture when driving.

Finally, balancing wheels and the alignment of the drive axles  are also common operations to ensure the truck runs smoothly and lower its consumption.

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