October 25, 2016 at 1:38 PM
The canny motorist already knows that in many situations a van will be more economical than a car, but you still need to get the maximum miles per gallon from your vehicle.
One of the best ways to do this is to choose carefully the type of road to take on each journey.
For longer journeys, always go for a motorway route where available, even if it is a little further. If there is no motorway, pick a good dual carriageway wherever possible rather than smaller local roads. There are several reasons why this can reduce your fuel bill, let’s look at them in detail.
Firstly, on a motorway, you are far more likely to be able to drive at a constant speed. This is important because repeatedly slowing down and speeding up burns more fuel than staying at a steady speed, and stopping and starting is even worse. Avoiding traffic lights and roundabouts, not to mention cyclists and learner drivers, will really pay dividends.
Secondly, using motorways gives you a better chance of avoiding congestion. A three or four lane road is less liable to be blocked than one or two lanes (apart from the M25), so you are less likely to find yourself burning fuel pointlessly in a traffic jam. Furthermore, most motorways have matrix boards giving warnings of any problems that may lie ahead, which will allow you to plan for a less congested route. Modern satnavs can also help to avoid traffic problems, but they are not always 100% reliable so it wise to take heed of other sources of information – a combination of display boards, sat nav and radio reports will give you the best odds of avoiding the queues.
Another consideration is the quality of the road on which you drive your van. We all know that the maintenance of local roads has deteriorated significantly over recent years as local authorities have had less cash to spend. Trunk routes seem to have fared better, and a better road surface means better fuel economy, as well as a lower risk of tyre damage. Just don’t forget to check your tyre pressures regularly, as under-inflated tyres can easily cost you an extra 3% on your fuel bill according to government figures.
Of course, one of the main attractions of motorways and main dual carriageways is the ability to travel at relatively high speeds compared to the minor roads. This can give you a significant saving in time, but a heavy foot on the accelerator can mean more frequent stops for your van at the petrol pumps. According to the AA, driving at 70mph uses 15% more fuel than at 50mph – you can see why many large fleets fit speed limiters to their goods vehicles. Ultimately it is up to the individual operator to balance the costs and benefits of speed against economy, but with recent increases in fuel prices likely to continue, any savings that can be made in fuel costs are likely to win the day.