Fuel consumption is one of the commercial driving industry’s biggest concerns both for its cost and its impact on the environment. We rely on truckers to provide our society with everything it needs to function, so necessity of the industry may have overshadowed environmental impact in the past. Recently, there has been increasing focus on the issue, however. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the SmartWay program in 2004 to address this and offer some solutions. Though investment in green technologies has been slow for varying reasons, companies are increasingly moving in the right direction as they see the long term benefits. Here are some technologies that truckers can take advantage of to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions as well as spending on costly fuel.
Every trucker gets lost from time to time in their career. Unfortunately, it can result in a lot of unnecessary fuel consumption. Having a good commercial driving GPS on board can save a lot of headache in addition to the fuel and emissions. Truck GPS systems are a little more involved than your average GPS, providing routes specifically for commercial drivers and accounting for things like clearances and load limits. Even for the average motorist, GPS is something worth looking into when you think about all the times you’ve been lost on the road. Extra time spent finding your way costs the environment and it costs your time and money.
Predictive Cruise Control
Large trucking companies usually employ some type of speed governor that limits the truck’s speed on the road, which also improves fuel economy by regulating a truck’s speed around 65mph. Cruise control in general helps reduce fuel consumption in this way, but Predictive Cruise Control (PCC) takes things a step further by utilizing GPS technology to adjust a truck’s speed for maximum fuel efficiency based on upcoming terrain changes. Though experienced truckers may already adjust their speed for this purpose based on their knowledge of the terrain, PCC shoulders that burden. Essentially, it is a smarter cruise control that offers better fuel consumption economy. The technology is relatively new, but outlook for its promised reduction in fuel costs is good.
These relatively low-cost modifications to the body of the trailer improve aerodynamics so there is less drag, which means less fuel is consumed. Those trucking in California are probably already aware of the necessity of this technology. Testing has shown these to have good enough reduction of fuel consumption that costs to outfit a rig with them can be recuperated quickly.
Low Rolling Resistance Tires
You’ve probably already seen this technology whether you realize it or not. Many electric or hybrid cars such as the Prius already feature low rolling resistance tires. These use less energy as they roll, and thus, consume less fuel. According to the US Department of Energy, “5 percent-15 percent of light-duty fuel consumption is used to overcome rolling resistance for passenger cars. For heavy trucks, this quantity can be as high as 15 percent-30 percent.” They are also not significantly more expensive than their higher resistance counterparts, especially when you consider the potential benefit.
Hank Barton is a second generation truck driver and a first generation blogger. He writes about good driving practices, the trucker lifestyle, the beauty of the open road and working toward a sustainable future for the trucking industry. He writes for E-Gears, an online CDL Practice Test authority that specializes in a variety of study guides. Hank writes and drives far too much for his own good.
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