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.
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.
Sustainable America Blog Editor