It can seem minuscule and even natural to leave your radio on during lunch or air conditioning running during a delivery — especially in these hot summer months. But little tendencies like this can quickly add up to six billion gallons and over $12 billion of wasted fuel each year.
Typically, truck drivers rely on idling to maintain the temperature of their cab while they sleep. However, nine states and Washington, D.C. have limited idling to between three and five minutes with another 14 states having separate restrictions for vehicles over 10,001 pounds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Not only does vehicle idling wreak havoc on your fuel levels, engine, and bottom line, it can also have severe implications on the health of your driver as well as everyone on and off the road. Let’s take a look at some hard facts on vehicle idling and steps to a cleaner future.
The real danger of truck idling
Trucks release diesel exhaust — a mixture of harmful gases, solids, and 40 chemicals that are classified as “hazardous air pollutants” under the Clean Air Act — every day. Exposure to these emissions has been linked to asthma, allergies, bronchitis, lung function, cancer, cardiac disease, and other serious respiratory problems. In fact, recent studies by the World Bank Group and Health Effects Institute indicate that air pollution is responsible for three times as many deaths — nearly 100,000 — compared to car accidents.
Intentional or not, leaving your vehicle running for any amount of time that you’re stopped means that more of these harmful gasses are being unnecessarily released into the air. And with diesel trucks burning about one gallon of fuel an hour, turning your engine off can protect you and your bottom line.
Improve your ecological footprint with idle reduction technology
In March 2018, the government increased the federal maximum weight limit for trucks by between 400 and 550 pounds to account for onboard idle reduction technologies, according to the Government Publishing Office. Additionally, 18 states offer incentives including grants, loans, and tax credits for companies adopting technologies such as:
- Auxiliary Power Units provide drivers with onboard power for climate control and electrical devices. Battery-powered and alternative-fuel APUs are available to lower the amount of diesel drivers have to burn.
- Cooling technologies such as storage air conditioners use your vehicle’s running engine to charge a battery or freeze a block of ice to provide air conditioning when the truck is stopped. Evaporative cooling is another alternative that cools air through the evaporation of water.
- Heating technologies including cab/bunk and coolant heaters draw fuel from the vehicle’s fuel tank to supply warmth to the cab when the truck is turned off.
- Automatic Engine Start/Stop (AESS) systems, also called idle management systems, turn the engine on and off as necessary to maintain sleeper-cab temperature and sufficient battery charge. These systems do not eliminate idling completely, but reduce it.
- Electrified Parking Spaces allow drivers to turn off their engines and plug-in to power an onboard air conditioner, heater, and other amenities.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, eliminating personal vehicle idling would be the equivalent of taking 5 million vehicles off of the road. Read Is truck idling fuel consumption burning your bottom line? Yes (and it doesn’t have to) to discover exactly how much idling is costing your business. Also, check out the top six myths of idling to learn common misconceptions and debunked “benefits” of idling.