All across the country, trucking companies are embracing green practices and converting portions of their fleets to hybrid or alternative-fuel trucks in an effort to reduce their environmental footprint. Fleets of shiny new trucks with advanced technology under the hood grab headlines and improve the image of the industry, but they’re still only a fraction of what’s out there on the road. For those in the industry who are concerned about their impact on the environment but who don’t have access to the next generation of fuel-efficient trucks, it might seem as if they have to wait to catch up to the trends before they can reduce the effect they have on the environment.
But that’s not the case at all. Even if you’re not driving a hybrid truck or one that runs on compressed natural gas, there still are some actions you can take to ensure you’re driving as eco-friendly as you possibly can. Many of these things are simple, but they can have a significant effect on the amount of emissions your truck puts out into the air as well as the amount of diesel fuel your truck consumes. Not only will these tips help you help the planet, but they should also be very friendly to your wallet, making this a win-win situation.
- Drive smarter. A few changes to your driving habits can make a big difference in your fuel consumption, which reduces the amount of fossil fuel that is pumped out of the ground and consumed as well as keeping your fuel costs down. Aggressive driving habits like rapid acceleration, speeding and quick braking all mean your truck consumes a lot more fuel than if you drive sensibly. Curbing these aggressive driving habits can improve your fuel economy by up to 33 percent on the highway, which could be huge savings for you. Also remember that fuel efficiency typically drops dramatically at speeds above 60 mph, so observing the speed limit also has a big impact on how much fuel you use.
- Keep up with maintenance. Little details can add up, especially if you don’t keep up with them. Making sure your fluid levels are topped off and your tires are inflated to their recommended pressure might not seem like they are worth doing all the time. Yet if they’re not kept at their optimal levels, they can force your engine to do more work and consume more fuel. This also applies to making sure your air filters are clean and your spark plugs are firing properly, because every little thing helps when it comes to fuel economy. Regular tuneups also are a must.
- Reduce idling. An idling truck can use more than half a gallon of fuel every hour, just standing still. Idling only when absolutely necessary is another way to decrease fuel consumption and save money. It’s recommended to shut down your engine if you will be stopping for more than 30 minutes. However, if you need to keep the power on in your cab for heating or air conditioning while you sleep, you can add an auxiliary generator or utilize the power supply at most truck stops. Some manufacturers also offer automatic engine shutdown/startup systems that can shut the engine down automatically after a certain period of inactivity or under certain conditions. For example, a system can be programmed to turn the engine and heating system on when stopped only when the outside temperature drops below a certain threshold.
- Plan routes more efficiently. Getting caught in a traffic snarl is a surefire way to waste fuel, so it’s in the best interests of you and the environment to plot your routes so you can avoid areas of high congestion during peak periods. Pay attention to traffic information on your GPS if you have one, and be prepared to take an alternate route if it would help you avoid traffic jams. Utilizing GPS and scheduling software also goes a long way toward preventing wasted miles or idling caused by getting lost or arriving too soon or too late.
Going green in the trucking business doesn’t have to mean investing in a new fleet of hybrid or alternative-fuel vehicles. If you keep these simple tips in mind, you can save fuel, reduce emissions and preserve another kind of precious resource — your money.
Author bio: Larry Labelle is Marketing Manager for Verduyn Tarps, an international leader in the tarp system industry. Labelle utilizes his creativity and background in sales to deliver solutions for the company’s branding, message and marketing strategy.