22 February 2021 - news

Bestrane White Paper - Does Idling Time Impact the Profitability of Your Vehicle Fleet?

Commercial fleet vehicles spend more time idling than we probably realise. Allowing vehicles to idle for extended periods directly adds cost to the operation of the fleet. Fuel usage, maintenance expenses and vehicle emissions are all directly impacted by vehicle idle time.

What is idle time?

Idle time is occasions when the vehicle is stationary and the engine is running.

Many events can lead to this circumstance. Instances include a driver completing paperwork, taking/making a phone call, having a scheduled break, loading/unloading, running the vehicle air-conditioning, and congested traffic situations.

Why is it essential to measure idle time?

Within commercial vehicle fleets, “Big Data” analysis suggests that vehicles idle for 25% of each shift worked on average. Several impacts are directly attributable to extended vehicle idle time.

Fuel Usage

Depending on the vehicle’s size – from sedan through to semi-trailer – between one and four litres per hour of fuel can be consumed whilst idling.

Fuel costs calculated on idle time of 25% of a typical shift for a mid-sized truck, burning 3 litres per hour, soon adds up to a significant number. If we were to estimate that 50% of this could be saved conservatively, a fuel cost saving well worth consideration would be realised.


Vehicle co2 emissions have a real impact on our environment. All socially conscious businesses have a focus on reducing their carbon footprint.

Managing and reducing vehicle idle time is a real and measurable step toward achieving this goal of reduction. Burning 1 litre of diesel will produce more than 2.5kgs of co2. https://slightlyunconventional.com/co2-per-litre-diesel/ Using the same calculations as above, reducing the idle time by 50% would result in a significant reduction of co2 emissions. https://www.uni.li/en/news/corporate-mobility-management-at-the-university-of-liechtenstein/

Engine Maintenance/Wear

One hour of idle time is equal to 40km of driving. Using the same calculation facts as above, an average vehicle’s idle time is equivalent to driving more than a complete service interval per year.

With most road vehicles service schedules being managed based on kms travelled, idle time can be quite impactful on the life of engine componentry. https://www.powerstrokediesel.com/docs/How%20Idle%20Time%20Affects%20Maint.%20Intervals.pdf

Monitoring idle time

A quality vehicle telematics solution will routinely measure the time a vehicle spends idling during every trip. This information will then be collated and accessible for fleet managers to analyse and understand their vehicles’ amount of idling.

This analysis will allow the fleet managers to pinpoint, where idling instances most often occur. From this understanding, targeted discussions can be held with drivers and involve recommended solutions to reduce vehicle idling.

Driver education

Driver scorecards that include idle time as a parameter coupled with some education regarding vehicles idling impacts are an effective way to help drivers be more conscious about their habits regarding leaving engines idling.

Regular discussions with drivers backed with their vehicle telematics data will effectively embed the desired changes in behaviour.

While an idling engine may seem like a relatively innocuous action, the cumulative impacts from both financial and environmental aspects are significant.

Using a quality vehicle telematics solution to measure and record idle time is beneficial, as is ensuring all drivers are aware of their behaviours, the impacts these behaviours can have and the change in habits required to reduce the effect.

How can vehicle telematics improve the safe and efficient management of your vehicle fleet?

Is your existing vehicle telematics solution providing you with all the available advantages?