Regular visits to gas stations are a common task for fleet drivers, but the frequency and distance of off-route refueling can have a significant impact on a company's financial performance. Given the current rise in fuel costs, it is crucial to understand the implications of fleet fueling practices.


In this article, we will examine the business impact of off-route fleet fueling based on an extensive study conducted by Geotab. By analyzing connected vehicle data from fleets across the United States, we can gain valuable insights into optimizing costs and identifying areas for improvement.


Key Findings

To understand the extent of off-route fleet fueling's impact, let's explore the key findings of the study:


  • On average, drivers travel two miles out of their way to refuel.

  • Each refueling stop takes approximately 8 minutes.

  • Vehicles, on average, have about one-third of a tank of fuel remaining when refueling.

  • Refueling at a gas station adds over 20 minutes to each trip.

  • Gas station stops contribute an average of 3 pounds of CO2 emissions per month.

  • Calculating Total Trip Time


To measure the time spent on refueling, the study considers two factors: Off-Route Time (ORT) and Station Dwell Time (SDT). ORT refers to the time spent off-route while traveling to and from the gas station, while SDT accounts for the time spent at the station itself.


By analyzing all routes and incorporating actual visits to fueling stations, the study determined the Total Trip Time, highlighting the difference between routes with and without gas station stops.


Average Refueling Times

  • The study provides important figures related to refueling times:

  • The average ORT is 8 minutes.

  • SDT at gas stations averages 12 minutes for all fleet vehicles.

  • The combined effect of ORT and SDT results in an average increase of 20 minutes in Total Trip Time across all markets.

  • The average ORT for each trip is 2.2 miles.

  • Average Total Trip Time by Region


When examining Total Trip Time by region, significant variations emerge. ORT has the most impact on the Total Trip Time of metro areas. The shortest average Total Trip Time, recorded in San Jose, California, is 11 minutes, with an ORT of 4 minutes and SDT of 7 minutes.


In contrast, Los Angeles, also in California, has the longest Total Fueling Time, with an SDT of 7 minutes and ORT of 21 minutes. The average Total Trip Time in Los Angeles is 28 minutes, nearly three times longer than in San Jose.


Distance by Region and Fuel Optimization

There is substantial variability in off-route distances among different regions and cities. For example, Austin drivers experience six times fewer off-route miles than those in Los Angeles and eight times fewer than those in Washington, D.C.


California, as a region, accumulates almost three times more off-route miles than Texas. Extrapolating these numbers over a year, drivers in Washington, D.C. accumulate over 425 additional miles due to off-route refueling.


The regional average for additional miles accrued by drivers and their vehicles ranges from 200 to 250 miles annually. Despite these variations, it is evident that fueling visits are not being optimized.


Average Fuel Utilization

The study reveals that drivers visit gas stations an average of seven times per month, even with one-third of a tank of gas remaining. This indicates that many drivers refuel earlier than necessary, resulting in unnecessary trips.


Moreover, 85% of vehicles visit gas stations with half a tank of gas remaining. This inefficient fuel utilization contributes to increased costs and fuel consumption.


The Long-Term Impact of fleet fueling

ORT and SDT not only affect Total Trip Time but also lead to two or more hours of non-productive time each month, on average.


Additionally, the additional miles driven due to off-route refueling have significant ramifications, including increased wear and tear on vehicles and environmental impact.


Amount of CO2 Emissions

Off-route refueling trips also have a negative impact on fleet sustainability. On average, each trip adds 3.45 pounds of CO2 emissions monthly. Los Angeles registers the highest CO2 output among the cities studied, with fleet vehicles releasing 7.06 pounds of CO2 monthly.


This means that a 20-vehicle fleet in Los Angeles adds an additional 74 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, equivalent to burning 813 pounds of coal.


Study Findings

This comprehensive analysis emphasizes the costs associated with off-route and inefficient refueling practices, affecting both businesses and the environment.


The time spent traveling to gas stations, paying, refueling, and returning to the route, along with unnecessary fuel stops, has a significant impact on operational efficiency.


Managing Fleet Fuel Costs

Managing fleet fuel costs can be simplified by implementing the following strategies:


  • Optimize routes to minimize off-route travel for refueling.

  • Set reminders or alerts for fill-ups when the fuel gauge reaches a specific level.

  • Avoid idling during fuel stops.

  • Monitor fuel economy trends through telematics.

  • By adopting these practices, businesses can reduce costs associated with off-route fill-ups and enhance operational efficiency.


Saving Fuel

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, shorter, frequent trips consume twice as much fuel as a single long trip covering the same distance. To save fuel, it is recommended to plan routes ahead to minimize off-route travel required to reach gas stations.



Off-route fleet fueling has a significant business impact, affecting costs, operational efficiency, and environmental sustainability. By optimizing refueling practices, businesses can reduce unnecessary off-route travel, decrease fuel consumption, and mitigate CO2 emissions.


Understanding the implications of off-route fleet fueling is crucial for managing fuel costs effectively and maximizing overall fleet performance.