Coastal Pacific Xpress
Simulated Driving Provides Real Environmental Benefits
A Surrey-based trucking firm could be on the way to saving itself a million dollars in fuel costs and, in doing so, dramatically reducing its fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Keith Hebert with Coastal Pacific Express (CPx) says it’s all possible thanks to its high-tech driver education program.
“We’ve worked incredibly hard to get our company drivers and lease-operators to buy into the program,” says the fuel analyst, “and the driving simulator is the key to our success, because it gives us and the drivers themselves instant results.”
The simulator looks like a semi-tractor cab and comes with complete instrumentation so that, with the help of computerized images displayed on screens in front of the driver, it appears the driver is steering, accelerating and braking as if he or she is actually on the road. The company is able to use software to realistically mimic the conditions drivers deal with everyday -- everything from traffic lights and congestion to steep hills.
“What we do is run the driver through a simulated course, show them where they can make improvements and then have the driver redo the course,” explains Hebert. “It’s amazing to see how making a few changes can result in major improvements when it comes to reducing fuel consumption and GHG emissions.”
For now, CPx has been focusing on getting its company drivers through the program -- in particular those drivers who company records show have lower performance when factoring in data like speed, engine RPM and idling time. But the high-tech driver education program will soon be offered to lease-operators. Hebert doesn’t believe it will be a tough sell.
“When we tell drivers they can save a thousand dollars a month in fuel costs by driving more efficiently,” he explains,” I think they’ll jump at the chance to hop into the simulator. It’s their money, but everyone benefits from the reduction in GHG emissions.”
The firm is sharing that information with more than just its drivers, though. CPx is passing along details of its strategies, programs and the results to the other members of Green Fleet BC’s Fleet Manager’s Network. While some people may look at sharing such information as helping their competitors, Hebert says keeping that open flow of information is a huge boost in the industry’s efforts to move ahead with environmentally friendly initiatives.
“Fleets like ours use millions of litres of fuel every year,” Hebert says, “and if there is a way we can use technology, like driving simulators, to reduce our overall fuel consumption, cut our GHG emissions and save a million dollars at the same time, we would be foolish not to implement it.”