Fleet Tracking

How to Reduce Fleet Vehicle Idle Time

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In 2016, the Office of Energy Efficiency released a report on fleet vehicle idle time. It stated that, in their sample, 39% of their subject’s fleet vehicles idle 3-4 hours every day. Another 14% idle for more than 4 hours a day. Only 34% of their subjects idle less than an hour a day. This is significant since fuel costs account for 60% of most fleet budgets. But there are other reasons why reducing fleet vehicle idle time is so important today.

Budget is always a concern, and higher fuel costs could always be right around the corner. There are also environmental concerns regarding air pollution and global warming. These concerns helped push MAP-21 through Congress. The passing of MAP-21 led to the creation of the ELD mandate, which requires all fleets to use ELD devices. These devices record HoS and help reduce the number of fleet vehicle-related accidents. But the advancements in telematics devices mean we can do so much more than just log hours. They can also be used to help us improve the efficiency of our fleets, reduce costs, and improve safety.

With telematics insights, we have more opportunities to look into what’s driving our costs. As mentioned, fuel costs are a huge portion of a fleet’s budget. Telematics can help reduce these costs in many ways. We’ll dive into all the ways to reduce vehicle idle time with fleet tracking software, below.

Why Idle Time Is So High

Before you can reduce idle time, you have to know why it exists. Of course, each fleet is different. Long haul fleet drivers will generally have higher idle times than those running a local route. That said, there are several reasons why fleet vehicle idle time is so high for so many. These include:

  • Loading and unloading
  • Traffic
  • Toll booths
  • Document processing
  • Stopped to use a phone
  • Warming up vehicle’s engine or cab
  • Rest stops

Of course, there are times when it’s impossible to avoid idling, such as at stoplights or stop signs. There are also allowances made for the comfort of fleet drivers. They spend all night in their vehicles and need to keep warm. They may also want to watch tv, listen to the radio, or call family during downtime. These comforts are vital to the mental and emotional health of long haul drivers.

The True Cost of Excessive Idling

As mentioned, a large number of fleet vehicles spend at least 3 hours idling each day. But in truth, they may idle up to eight hours each day. Excessive idling costs fleet companies approximately $12,000 per truck annually. As a rule of thumb, expect to lose a percentage point of fuel economy for every 10% of idle time. Beyond the costs, what other implications does an idling truck have? Take a look below.

Extra Maintenance Costs

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, excessive idling increases maintenance costs. These costs go up by approximately $2,000 per vehicle per year. This is because idling does twice the damage to internal parts than turning the engine off and on. In addition, idling decreases the time between needed oil changes. More frequent maintenance also increases vehicle downtime, which has its own impacts.

Running Costs

The estimated fuel cost for a commercial truck is $70,000 annually. Idling wastes approximately 8% of those funds. The more fleet vehicles you have, the more you waste. Strangely, just 10 seconds of idling wastes more fuel than restarting your engine.

Environmental & Health Costs

CO2 emissions put off by the transportation industry account for 29% of total emissions. Some may dispute the impact of truck emissions on climate change, but there are other concerns as well. Increased idling diminishes air quality for drivers and the community. The rise of cancer, asthma, and birth defects may also be linked to idling and vehicle fumes. While we can’t eliminate emissions altogether, we can reduce idle time.

Many states across the country are taking steps to regulate idling for public health. So far, eighteen states have anti-idling laws. Penalties include fines of $25,000.

As you see, reducing idling is important. Not only to reduce your fuel costs, but also to lower emissions, and reduce vehicle wear. Below, you’ll find ways to reduce vehicle idle time with fleet tracking software.

How to Use GPS Tracking for Fleet Vehicles’ Idle Time

There are a number of actions you can take to reduce vehicle idle time and your resulting costs. Many of them don’t require the use of telematics software. You can find some of those actions in our article entitled, “How to Reduce Fuel Consumption”. But for those that want to leverage technology to solve one of the largest fleet issues, read on.

Driver Behavior Reports

Telematics systems record a lot of data about your vehicle, including how it’s handled. This includes braking, speeding, cornering, aggressive maneuvers, idling, and much more. Aggressive driving wears vehicles down much faster, increasing your costs. These behaviors, especially speeding, also increase your fleet risk. If that isn’t bad enough, they also raise fuel costs and may even impact insurance premiums. Telematics systems give you insight into your drivers’ behavior. You can use this information to develop training programs tailored to each individual. For general fleet idling, this information helps you gauge how long your fleet idles and where. Then you can apply other methods for reducing idling. This may include auxiliary power or an idle shutdown program.

Idle Time Tracking & Alerts

Telematics systems allow you to set alerts for driving behavior. In most cases, managers use this to warn drivers when they are speeding. But the alerts can just as easily work to stop idling. Telematics devices monitor engine diagnostics and have the ability to track idling time. If the truck idles for too long, the driver and manager get an alert to stop the engine. That is, if the fleet manager is properly using their telematics system to reduce vehicle idle time.

Route Optimization

Traffic is a huge problem for fleets trying to reduce their idle time. Telematics systems can help by optimizing the routes for all fleet vehicles. They use algorithms to calculate every possible route to a destination. The algorithms include variables such as traffic, accidents, construction, and other disruptions. The system can then adjust a fleet driver’s route any time before or during the trip. This ensures your drivers face less traffic, and therefore idle less.


Geofencing is an exceptionally useful tool implemented across multiple industries. Fort Lauderdale in Florida uses geofencing to reduce bridge maintenance. A local bridge was continuously under maintenance due to overweight trucks. They tagged and geofenced every overweight vehicle. They also set alerts for when these vehicles crossed the bridge. This decreased the number of overweight vehicles crossing the bridge by 90%. The same is possible for vehicle idling. Set a geofence around certain idling hot spots. You’ll receive alerts when vehicles enter the perimeter and see how long they remain there.

GPS Idle Time Reports

Telematics allow you to see how long a vehicle idled and where. Use these reports to determine where you can reduce idling. This may mean getting an auxiliary unit for your vehicles. Or it may mean putting idling rules in place, such as having drivers turn off the engine after 30 seconds or 3 minutes of idling. You can then use telematics to ensure drivers are following these new rules.

Azuga fleet tracking software helps you save thousands by reducing idle time. Our system provides actionable information that other systems can’t. This is because our OBDs read your engine data 60 times more often than many GPS devices. With Azuga, you get accurate, reliable data to improve the efficiency of your fleet. Learn more about what GPS fleet tracking can do at Azuga.