With heavy-duty trucks and buses producing an estimated 20 percent of greenhouse gases in the United States each year, it is understandable that any regulations to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels and lower the resulting emissions are going to target the efficiency of long-haul tractor-trailers.
First-ever fuel standards
President Obama signed the first-ever fuel efficiency regulations for heavy-trucks and buses back in 2011. The administration called for improving fuel-efficiency by as much as 23 percent on new trucks by the 2018 model year. A move they estimate will lower oil usage by 530 million barrels and save truckers a combined total of $50 billion in fuel expenditures.
Officials expect these stricter MPG standards to add $6,220 to the cost of a new tractor-trailer, but it will save them an estimated $73,000 in fuel cost over the operating life of that same vehicle. Under the new standards, big rigs with high roof sleepers have to improve from the current average of 6 miles per gallon to 7.2.
Industry support for Phase I
The Transportation Department, Environmental Protection Agency, and most trucking industry officials met these new standards with enthusiastic optimism. Bill Graves, president and chief executive of the American Trucking Associations, said truckers will make up for the higher up-front cost of equipment in two to three years, but things get tougher when trailers are “added to the mix.”
Phase II for 2019 and beyond
Phase II standards apply to 2019 models and beyond. This second round of regulations also adds new rules for trailers. The EPA and NHTSA are assessing possible advanced technologies involving aerodynamics, weight reduction, and tire rolling resistance. Ben Sharpe is a senior researcher with International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). He feels fuel efficiency can be improved by between 7 to 10 percent per trailer and the overall goal needs to be cost-effective technologies to work.
For the latest trucking news and cost-saving tips, visit TruckerToTrucker.com.
Anytime a new driver ask experienced drivers about the best time to drive, they get the same response: “Drive when you have to, sleep when you can.” The road and customers can wreck havoc on your nerves, making restful sleep difficult and sporadic. Even when you do get seven or so hours of sleep, you can still spend your waking hours feeling run down and fatigued if you are on an inconsistent schedule.
You can be sure that it is not going to play out the way you hoped, but government regulations on driving time combined with varied loading and unloading times for customers make it imperative that you plan your driving days in advance. You have to make sure you have enough available hours to legally make all needed deliveries in a particular day. It takes a lot of experience and the ability to calm your mind and sleep at times your body doesn’t feel like sleeping.
10 hour breaks
That looks like plenty of time on paper. When you are making your schedule, keep in mind that your break from driving will also be used waiting for your trailer to be loaded or unloaded, finding a parking place for your truck, taking a shower, grabbing a decent meal, and, oh yeah, getting a few hours of sleep before you begin driving again.
Morning hours are valuable
You do not want to run out of legal driving hours at the time most shipments urgently need to go out. With the vast majority of loads going out in the morning, if you miss getting a load then, you could be without one until the next day. It is best to arrange you driving and sleep in such a way that you are both physically and legally ready for shipments at the busiest time of the day.
For other helpful tips and information make sure to visit the Trucker to Trucker blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There you’ll find a community of professional truckers willing to share their comments and insight with you to help you be profitable and happy on the road.
Many truck drivers remember a time when their communication with the family was limited to pay phones that were frequently out of order or being used by someone else when you were lucky enough to find one and have a few minutes of down-time to use it. These days, it is difficult for any of us to imagine life without Wi-Fi and our cellphones. Along with the convenience, comes high cost and a potentially overwhelming array of choices.
If you make frequent trips across country, it is imperative that you have a national carrier and your plan does not include roaming fees. Some companies will not charge you roaming when using their towers, but will hit you with some whopping charges for connecting via a competitor’s tower. Read the fine print when you see “Free Roaming” in bold letters.
Practically any recognized carrier offers some plan that they call nationwide coverage. But they all have very different coverage maps. Carefully consider the cities and towns of your most frequent deliveries and compare them to the coverage map of any phone carriers that you are considering.
Data use and cost
The carrier with the best coverage charges a premium for data. The carrier with the best price on unlimited data provides what can only be called spotty coverage. To be safe, you are not going to be sending emails while driving and shouldn’t be updating your Facebook page with photos of scenic views, either. Many truck stops provide free Wi-Fi to bring you in. Most drivers prefer paying the price to have a reliable connection anytime they really need it and make use of Wi-Fi when they are at a hotel, restaurant, or truck stop.
Contract vs no contract
For just a single phone, you are better off with no contract. When you are shopping for family plans, it is worth considering the packages offered by national companies.
For other helpful tips and information make sure to visit the Trucker to Trucker blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays.