Sustainable America Blog

How the Trucking Industry Can Save Billions of Gallons of Fuel Per Year

How the Trucking Industry Can Save Billions of Gallons of Fuel per Year

Our nation’s heavy-duty trucks travel 256 million highway miles every day to get everything from fruit to furniture where it needs to go. The 1.7 million truckers in the United States are often on the road for days at a time, and their trucks are their homes away from home. During overnights and rest breaks, they need to eat, relax, catch up with their families and — most importantly — get a good night’s sleep, which means they need to heat or cool the cab, depending on the season.

The problem is that doing all these things requires power, and the easiest way to power appliances, computers, heaters and air conditioners is by idling the engine. A typical combination truck uses about 0.8 gallons of diesel fuel per hour when idling. Trucks idle between 5 and 8 hours per day, over 300 days per year, so, as you can see in the infographic below, the gallons add up quickly, as does the cost and the harm done to the environment from emissions.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are several technologies designed to cut or even eliminate idling time, including auxiliary power units and automatic idle shutdown systems. Some truck stops offer power services that trucks can hook into, called truck stop electrification (TSE), but only about 2% of the country’s 5,000 truck stops offer TSE, and some systems require trucks to have special wiring and equipment.

How the Trucking Industry Can Save Billions of Gallons of Fuel Per Year through Idle Reduction Strategies

As you can see, the trucking industry has the power to make a big impact on fuel usage if it makes idle reduction a priority. It will not only save on fuel and maintenance costs; it can also help make our country less reliant on foreign oil and decrease pollution. We hope the day soon comes when idling is a last resort and every truck stop is equipped to provide the most efficient power to truckers when they need it.

Amy Leibrock
Sustainable America Blog Editor


Updated 1/14/2015

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.

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