Smarter Truck Driving Saves Fuel Over the Long Haul

Nearly 35 years ago 33 truckers competed for three days in a fuel saving contest called  “Double Nickel Challenge.”  Truckers from all over the United States gathered in East Liberty, Ohio, to watch as drivers navigated laps around a track—first at 55 mph, and then at any speed of their choosing. The results were that they burned less fuel in the first, speed-limited, trial.

Today,  the 55 mile per hour U.S. speed limit, which was originally enacted as a result of the 1973 Arab oil embargo, has faded into history on most highways.

There are new technologies implemented in today’s long-haul trucks, such as electronic engine controls that limit driver speed. In the United States most large fleet operators electronically limit their drivers to 60 to 63 miles an hour, because they understad that safety is one consideration, but the other aim is to save on the cost of fuel.

Curbing driver speed is perhaps the most widely recognized behavioral change that can save fuel, with the low 60 to 65 mph  range being the “sweet spot” for many of the 18-wheelers on today’s highways, said Glen Kedzie, vice president of environmental affairs for the American Trucking Associations, a trade group headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.

A truck that travels at 65 mph instead of 75 mph can, on average, improve fuel consumption by as much as 27 percent! With today’s higher fuel prices, that can really add up.

Today we are in an era of  intelligent and connected vehicles and trucking technologies for better fuel economy now include wireless sensors, GPS modules, algorithms, and sophisticated fleet tracking software that provides real-time data analysis. With these technologies, operators can collect detailed information about a given driver and vehicle that includes locations where they stopped, how long they rested, how hard and how often they braked, and how long they allowed the vehicle to idle.

Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2011/09/110923-fuel-economy-for-trucks/