Trucking Becomes Greener, Still Has Ways to Go

Dec 18, 2013 No Comments by

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Trucking used to be the pit in which green efforts went to die. It seemed there was little that could be done to make the massive behemoths that transport everything from the food that we need to live to the bust of Sir Walter Scott we ordered off Amazon. However, trucking companies have been cleaning up their act lately, and it’s time they get a little recognition and praise.

Converting from paper logs

This one is multi-layered. First of all, the 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States all giving up paper logs could provide a serious effect in terms of waste and paper used alone. But — that’s not the only thing that paperless logs are doing for the environment. They’re a part of a system called an electronic on-board recorder (EOBR). These devices are part GPS, part fleet tracking and part recording device. They guide truckers toward routes that use less fuel instead of the shortest routes. While these are often the same thing, routes that have too many hills or curves that necessitate slowing down and accelerating frequently will use more gas than flat, straight roads.

In the same way that your fuel mileage improves when you set your cruise control on the highway, truckers save fuel when they take these even routes. EOBRs are also used to enforce safety rules, like mandatory resting periods. These resting periods are designed to keep both truckers and non-commercial drivers safe.

Adding streamlining devices

You’ve probably noticed the weird fins on the backs of some trucks that make it look like a cardboard box that hasn’t been quite opened up yet. That’s a relatively new advancement in aerodynamics that’s saving truckers money and saving the environment, too. Not only are truckers stopping less often to refuel (which comes with more driving and more paper and plastic waste since many buy snacks at each stop), they’re contributing less to air pollution and using less fossil fuels.

The impact of aerodynamics is sometimes hard to measure. A single piece that increases efficiency by 7 percent added to a piece that increases efficiency by 3 percent won’t necessarily increase overall efficiency by 10 percent. Because of this, many truckers opt to only include highly efficient side skirts. However, they’re missing out on the total cumulative effects of having a fully aerodynamic truck. Those who do invest in fuel efficiency should be praised for their foresight.

Trucking efficiency and fuel-saving measures can still go farther. We have the technology to run entire fleets off of solar power. We just need to put more effort into supporting the greening efforts of the transportation industry. The more support the industry gets, including regulations, inventions and monetary help transition into a more eco-friendly industry.

 

Ground

About the author

Danielle is a student at The Kelley School of Business studying marketing & supply chain management. In her spare time, she enjoys making collages and other arts and crafts.
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