Examining the ‘E’ in ESG: The Future for Fleets

Originally published in Fleet Management Weekly 12/7/22

By Ed Dubens, CEO/Founder of eDriving

As environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investments and environmentally focused vehicles and solutions surge in popularity across the globe, fleet organizations may be feeling overwhelmed while seeking a solution that successfully protects both their drivers and the planet. ESG investors are demanding action from fleet managers that provides sustainable emissions reductions in line with the UN’s net zero goals of cutting emissions as drastically as possible to reach net zero by 2050¹.

Karl Simon - EPAFleet managers find themselves at the crux of this ever-looming problem. Karl Simon, who runs the EPA’s Transportation and Climate Division, says that transportation is the largest source of the country’s climate emissions. Currently, freight accounts for roughly one-third of all transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, and global freight activity is expected to quadruple by 2050, with associated emissions increases².

In response to this crisis, fleet managers are presented with a plethora of environmentally conscious options, which vary in their ability to reduce emissions, as well as keep drivers safe. Some fleet managers may turn to electric vehicle investments, seeking to offset total fleet emissions via partial or full adoption of an EV fleet. While EVs do mitigate emissions and are generally very safe, with many models boasting a 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration³, the upfront investment in the electric vehicles and related charging infrastructure can present a significant barrier for many organizations.

Other fleet leaders are upgrading to modern models of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles with better fuel economy. However, doing so is typically not impactful enough to provide sustainable or significant emissions reductions and can require an upfront cost that is usually higher than EV fleet upgrade options. Still others seek route optimizations to ensure drivers are being as fuel-efficient as possible while driving for work purposes, but fleet managers should be aware that the most efficient routes may not be the safest for drivers.

With many sustainability solutions available, all varying in cost, emissions reductions, consistency of results, and driver safety implications, where should organizations turn?

The answer lies in the relationship between driver safety and sustainability, and how influencing safer driving behavior not only reduces risk, but also an organization’s environmental impact. Safe driving IS eco-driving, and vice-versa. Changes in driving behavior have a direct impact on drivers’ safety awareness, the amount of fuel consumed, the volume of emissions, and rates of collisions and incidents.

Consider that the majority of emissions are produced during aggressive driving. Studies have shown that aggressive driving can lower fuel efficiency by up to 30% on highways and up to 40% in stop-and-go traffic*. A half-hour of defensive driving produces the same level of emissions as a single minute of reckless driving.

When scaled across the entire fleet, even minor increases in fuel efficiency can result in significant emissions reductions, as every gallon of unnecessary gasoline burned by a car emits 19.5lbs of CO2; for trucks, every gallon of unnecessary diesel burned emits 22.1lbs of CO2^. And this best practice also rings true for fleets seeking to upgrade their vehicles. Regardless of vehicle size or engine type, how an employee drives makes a significant difference in the volume of emissions emitted by a company vehicle.

Mentor by eDriveAt eDriving, we provide solutions to help drivers change risky behavior to safer, more eco-friendly practices. Our smartphone-based Mentor by eDriving program provides a validated FICO® Safe Driving Score, along with eLearning, coaching, and gamification to help drivers evolve their behavior behind the wheel – and sustain the changes. Analysis coinciding with 3.5B Mentor miles driven (Spring 2022) showed that Mentor helped high-risk drivers reduce risky behavior by up to 62% over 6 months and up to 89% over 18 months.

And now we’ve partnered with Greater Than to integrate their EcoScore into Mentor by eDriving, elevating the sustainability benefits for fleet organizations by contributing to carbon footprint reductions of up to 20%. The new EcoDrive feature in Mentor incorporates Greater Than’s unique pattern-AI technology which conducts real-time driving analysis to calculate CO2 emissions per individual driver in percentage and grams terms, facilitating more accurate ESG reporting with quantified results of an organization’s CO2 emissions and savings.

Picture of green planet as symbol of environmental concept

With comprehensive sustainability reporting becoming mandatory across the globe, Mentor’s EcoDrive feature powered by Greater Than provides increased control over a fleet’s environmental impact while providing the insights needed to reduce absolute CO2 emissions.

Fleet organizations shouldn’t have to choose between sustainability and safety, and now, they don’t. EcoDrive powered by Greater Than will be available in eDriving’s flagship Mentor business solutions, as well as Mentor Defender, eDriving’s newest app for individuals and family members, distributed through insurers, auto safety membership organizations and driving schools.

¹; ²FleetOwner; ³National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; *; ^EPA