Do you drive a commercial diesel truck, long haul truck, or local delivery truck? Do you run a business that receives deliveries from these vehicles? The Colorado State idling law, passed in 2011, allows local governments to limit idling by some of these vehicles (commercial diesel trucks, 14,000 lbs or more) to no more than five minutes within one hour.
Many trucking companies have adopted anti-idling policies to control fuel costs. According to Bill Graves, President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, "Diesel costs remain the number one concern of motor carriers." Idling a heavy duty diesel truck wastes about one gallon of fuel an hour, which can add up to $5,000-$12,000 in wasted fuel costs plus $2,000 in vehicle maintenance costs per vehicle annually. So, there's a big incentive for companies to control these costs!
In 2005, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters adopted an anti-idling policy that engaged drivers to reduce unnecessary idling across their nearly 25 truck fleet. As idling dropped from 30% of engine running time to 20% and then 10%, they were able to reduce fuel consumption by 6,816 gallons. At the bulk fuel rate of $3/gallon, this policy saved the company close to $20,500 in fuel costs alone. They likely saved on deferred vehicle maintenance costs as well, such as not having to replace air and fuel filters as frequently. Please read the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters success story for additional information and resources.
For long-haul drivers, the most common idling situations are during their rest time when they are heating, cooling, and using appliances in their cabs. Truck stop electrification technology allows truck drivers to provide power to these systems without idling the engine. As of July 2016, there are two electrified rest areas in Colorado, the US Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center has a map that you can search by address to find locations in other states while traveling cross-country. Auxiliary engines are optional as add-ons and they use about 90% less fuel and provide cabin comfort. However, the cost per unit generally exceeds $5,000 and that presents a significant up-front hurdle, especially to independent owner-operators.
What Can I Do?
- Encourage your company to adopt an idling policy as the shipper or receiver.
- Read our 2-page fact sheet about idling diesel trucks, emission reduction equipment, and local businesses' experiences with policies and technologies. Share these tips with your fleet and maintenance managers, drivers, customers, and vendors.
- The U.S. EPA has several valuable resources for the trucking industry. You can read more about idle reduction strategies and technologies for many vehicle types on their website.
- The American Trucking Association's Trucks Deliver a Cleaner Tomorrow campaign is committed to a series of measures designed to further reduce the carbon emissions of trucks in the United States. Read their recommendations to reduce both discretionary and non-discretionary idling and to watch videos about their recommendations.
- Learn about the Colorado Motor Carriers Association's green efforts.
- Learn more about the US EPA's SmartWay program.