The environmental impact of the trucking industry has escalated concerns among shippers, carriers, environmentalists, and state and federal governing bodies. Authorities in freight shipping have responded to recent studies on the effects of climate change in the last decade by taking measures to reduce carbon footprint. Even though the new government has promised to ease regulations, the trend toward environmentally-friendly shipping practices is still relevant and beneficial in terms of environmental burdens and accelerated resource depletion as well as decreasing shipping rates.
The measures implemented by authorities include green shipping practices and new regulations designed to minimize the impact of trucks on the environment. For example, a new set of fuel economy regulations was issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency in 2015. The new regulations will require fleet-wide modifications for may shipping providers. The regulations go into effect in 2018; the deadline for full compliance is 2021.
The trucking industry has a long way to go to fully embrace the vision of a green industry by its leaders. Every day in America thousands of trucks travel countless miles, all the while consuming massive amounts of fuel and oil and polluting the air with CO2. Technological advances in the industry are expected to support environmental protection improvements. Investors are taking an interest in new innovations that will clearly reduce emissions.
Autonomous trucks have captured news headlines and the imagination of the American public simultaneously. Expected benefits of these so-called “driverless vehicles” include better controls on speed as well as improved fuel efficiency.
Real-time tracking of delivery trucks is another important technological advancement in the industry. Real-time tracking will improve efficient routing, which translates into less fuel consumption. Emerging big data solutions being implemented by freight providers include filling trucks and minimizing deadhead return trips, which in turn reduces fuel consumption on every pound of freight.
New technologies in the market involve engine management systems that control idling time during driver downtime. These innovative technologies enable trucks to maintain a comfortable temperature without idling the engine, thus saving fuel.
Other trucking-related innovations that are already available and are environmentally-friendly include:
- aerodynamic panels
- wide base tires
- low viscosity lubricants
- exhaust system upgrades
- eco flaps
- auxiliary power units
- speed limitations, and
- liquid natural gas powering.
Drivers themselves can increase the efficiency of their trips by paying attention to fuel consumption. Reducing speed by as little as 5 miles per hour can have a significant impact on lowering their fuel consumption. Taking the time to slow down before stopping and increasing speed slowly when accelerating as well as shifting gears progressively can lower fuel consumption by 5-10 percent.
Fleet managers can start by keeping their trucks well-maintained, which will optimize efficiency. Hybrid technology may be a viable option for some fleets. Less aggressive driving practices will set the stage for lowering fuel consumption as well as improving safety for drivers.
There is a long, costly process ahead in the trucking industry toward achieving the vision of a greener freight industry in the U.S. That said, many new innovations in the industry will not only reduce emissions but will also reduce costs and improve the safety of U.S. roadways. It’s time for the trucking industry to make a conscious effort to reduce the negative effects of pollution and over-consumption of fossil fuels. Not only is it the right thing to do, but making an effort to reduce the carbon footprint will improve the bottomline of trucking companies, large and small.green trucking, nhtsa, transportation environmentalism, trucking carbon footprint, trucking environmental impact