Transit agencies are tasked with providing safe travels for riders and operators, while keeping operational and fuel costs down. We’ve found through our public transit research that safe driving and efficient driving go hand-in-hand; when you do one, you’re doing the other. As a result of this research, we’ve come up with some easy-to-follow tips that agencies can teach their operators to keep everyone safe and improve MPG by up to 19% — saving up to $3,400 per vehicle per year.
Tip #1 - Go Soft
Accelerating quickly is not only dangerous, it wastes fuel. Hard acceleration accounts for 71% of the waste, burning three to five times the amount of fuel as a smooth start. The extra minute or two an operator waits for a sufficient opening in traffic could save fuel and create a safer travel environment.
Another maneuver operators should watch for is hard braking. Hard braking is responsible for 8% of transit’s wasted fuel and could easily be avoided by anticipating stops and allowing the momentum of the vehicle to slow as you arrive. This not only saves fuel, but also provides a smoother and safer ride for your passengers. Operators should approach destinations smoothly and plan to stop.
Tip #2: Respect the Curves
Accelerating around bends and corners causes unsafe conditions for passengers and eats up 5% of transit fuel. By decelerating into the turn and smoothly accelerating out of the turn, operators can improve their driving statistics.
Tip #3: Expect Traffic Changes
No one can tell when another driver is going to run a red light or when someone’s dog might run into the road. By maintaining a proper following distance with the vehicle in front of you and anticipating traffic flow, you can minimize braking which wastes fuel. Allowing enough distance between the vehicle and the vehicle in front of them and being aware of their surroundings can help operators prepare for the unexpected.
Tip #4: Ease Off the Speed
Driving above the speed limit puts operators and riders at risk and should be avoided. And, for every 5 mph above the 55 mph speed limit, fuel burns 15% faster. Speeding can also lead to unexpected hard braking. Operators should maintain a safe, consistent speed to reduce gas usage and protect passengers as well as other drivers and pedestrians.
Tip #5: No Excessive Idling
When the vehicle is parked or an operator is on a break, they should turn the vehicle off. With days of extreme heat or cold being an exception, 15% of wasted fuel is due to unnecessary idling. Shutting down reduces emissions and saves gas.
We sum up these tips by giving transit agencies and their operators an easy way to remember the — “go GREEN to be more safe and efficient.”
We’ve make this approach and these techniques available in a free eco- driving training video that recently won first place at the APTA 2013 AdWheel Awards.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "Transportation funding and service cuts affect more than just riders."
Palmer is the president of SmartDrive Systems, a leader in providing comprehensive, video-based operator performance and safety programs to help transit agencies achieve operational safety and efficiency, protect operators and the public, and lower costs overall.
If we encourage our operators to treat operating a bus as a shift-long Zen moment, we may be able to reduce preventable crashes by a significant amount. The “Zen Operator,” who drives precisely at all times, is also less stressed. The Zen Operator flows through difficult, tight situations easily and their body language and vibe give passengers a sense of confidence. The operator whose passengers have a white-knuckle death grip on the back of the seat in front of them is not practicing “Zen Bus Operation.”
Ah, summer. Pool parties, barbecues, the smell of honeysuckle and the sight of lightning bugs. Or — a rise in crime, agitated riders seeking air conditioning, heat stroke, a new fiscal year, and the necessary, but unpopular, fare increases. However you view the summer months, with a direct correlation between high temperatures and increased crime, it's vital for transit leaders to be asking themselves, "Have we done everything possible to keep our people safe?"
The RMS occurred last month in Albany, N.Y. and it was a truly remarkable learning experience for those in attendance. The RMS serves as a one-of-a-kind event that brings together transit risk management professionals from all across the country to focus on key topics related to safety, risk management, planning and prevention.
I recently attended, and had the opportunity to be part of a panel of speakers, at the NYC MTA Bus Safety Symposium. A variety of topics were discussed regarding bus and pedestrian safety issues. What was obvious is we all have a common goal to provide the safest transit systems possible, in spite of the possibility of increasing bus/pedestrian and bus/cyclist collisions.
I have had it with the never-ending meeting of the minds on the predominant causes of left-turn bus-pedestrian collisions. This whole issue is getting obscured with presentations that slice and dice every possible cause of these incidents into a collection of symbols, numbers and formulas. Please stop.