The short answer is yes. Driving slower can save gas. When you drive at lower speeds, your engine doesn't have to work as hard to overcome air resistance, which is a significant factor in fuel consumption, especially at higher speeds. Additionally, rapid acceleration and abrupt braking lower your fuel efficiency.
By driving at a more moderate and consistent speed, you can improve your gas mileage and save money on gas. But there’s more. We’ve been crunching the latest numbers to provide you with precise* costs for different speeds at different fuel prices.
While none of us have any control over fuel prices, we do have some control over our fuel costs by choosing the speed at which we drive. With the goal of providing helpful information to truck drivers, we have updated this blog post with the current cost of diesel.
*Our estimates are based on the latest available data as of November 2023.
Keeping Track Of Fuel Costs
"It's not what you make, but what you keep." When running your business, it is key to know all of your costs. Granted, not everything is easy to track. This is especially true for diesel, given the varying prices and the fill-up schedule not matching the load schedule.
To help with this, CloudTrucks has a fuel receipt program that allows you to store a picture of your fuel receipt and enter your fuel purchase information. Participation will ensure all the taxes you paid at the pump are used to properly calculate your IFTA payments (as you likely know, lost receipts lead to higher IFTA payments) and monitor your fuel costs, which will be reported back to you via the Business Intelligence Tool. (Our recommendation, if you haven’t already, is to upload receipts back to January 1 of this year.)
Does Driving Slower Save You Money on Gas?
In addition to keeping better track of your expenses, we also want to help reduce them. With careful driving, you could reduce your fuel costs by $10,000 to $15,000 per year.** Megafleets sometimes achieve this by installing a speed governor on your truck. However, as a non-force dispatch owner-operator, you have the freedom to run your business as you see fit (safely and legally, of course).
Using a study from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory that uses actual trucks across multiple terrains and load sizes, we’ve estimated how much extra it costs to save an hour of time by driving faster. Our recalculations are based on the diesel price of $4.54 per gallon, reflecting the current costs and emphasizing the impact of fuel efficiency.
- 1,000 miles on flat terrain
- $4.54 per gallon of diesel
- Average total weight of 63,233 lbs
Traveling 1,000 miles at 60 mph instead of 75 mph would mean an extra 3.4 hours of driving time (16.7 hours vs. 13.3 hours), but would reduce your total fuel costs by $136 (from approximately $624.58 to $488.58). This change equates to savings of about $40 per hour, which over a full-time job's worth of hours (2,080 hours per year) would amount to an equivalent annual earning increase of roughly $83,200.
Traveling 1,000 miles at 70 mph instead of 75 mph would mean about an extra hour of driving time (14.3 hours vs. 13.3 hours), but would reduce your total fuel costs by $48 (from approximately $624.58 to $576.58). That equates to saving $48 in fuel costs for every extra hour driven, which translates to an equivalent annual earning increase of about $99,840 if projected over a full-time job's hours.
**The annual savings of $10,000 to $15,000 depend on a variety of factors, including the total miles driven, the actual fuel efficiency at different speeds, and the actual price of diesel throughout the year.
Below, you will find the updated information in a table format at the current diesel price as well as other speed and diesel price variations.
In summary, driving faster burns more fuel, but in the tradeoff between fuel cost and time there is a large opportunity for savings. So, which approach should you take? Well, the answer is actually quite complicated because fuel is expensive and, of course, your time is very valuable.
The most obvious cases for driving slower are where (1) you know that you are going to arrive hours early at your current speed and (2) it is very unlikely that you will get unloaded early on your current load or get loaded early on your next load. In these cases, reducing your open road speed and planning for the extra driving time makes sense, assuming you have adequate hours and are not fatigued.
There are additional meaningful benefits of reduced speed not accounted for above: 1) less wear and tear on your equipment and tires, 2) less chance of an accident, and 3) less severe accidents.
*Todd Amen, CEO of ATBS, said “... fuel is your number one cost and just by managing it you can save $10,000 to $15,000 per year.” DAT iQ Live, Ep. 169 @ 19:45, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJRo9Dl3TQk
** This assumes 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year.
Earn Fuel Discounts With CloudTrucks
Driving slower can help you save on gas, but it’s not the only solution. CloudTrucks is always looking for ways to help our customers save money, so we’ve rolled out the CloudTrucks Fuel Network.
You can now save around 30¢ per gallon at over 200 independent truck stops across the nation. The CT Fuel Network is available to all Virtual Carrier customers. If you’re not already a customer, sign up with CloudTrucks for free today so you can start earning more money as a truck driver.