Monday, April 5, 2010

US Release Freight Truck Fuel Reduction Report

Instructions Show How to Cut Fleet Consumption Costs
Shipping News Feature

US – The National Research Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published their eagerly awaited report “Technologies and Approaches to Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles”, a congressionally mandated report that assesses and recommends different approaches for improving fuel economy, increasing efficiency and reducing emission of greenhouse gases from medium and heavy-duty commercial truck fleets, including those of shipping and drayage companies.

The report targets alternative methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions including training vehicle operators in efficient driving methods, adjusting size and weight restrictions on trucks, developing intelligent vehicles, and improvements to the nation’s highway systems. A comprehensive study it assesses the carbon reduction through an array of technologies that improve fuel efficiency. These include aerodynamics, tires and wheels, accessory electrification, idle reduction strategies, weight reduction, engine efficiency, waste heat recapture, hybridization, transmission and driveline.

The report looks at carbon reducing technologies and concludes the high initial costs associated with such solutions, for example all electric trucks, have delayed their introduction and points out that truck owners should carefully calculate the long term cost of vehicles, including all fuel costs which will accrue during the life of the vehicle. Each sector of the haulage industry needs to assess their own working cycles as these can vary widely according to the services undertaken.

The report has been praised by industry bodies such as the American Trucking Associations (ATA) who also came out this week to reconfirm their support for Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for his continuing crusade to prohibit texting by drivers. The Department of Transport want to make a ban on text messaging using handheld devices by interstate truck and bus drivers a permanent measure despite a hostile reaction by certain sectors of the commercial vehicle community.

Many ATA member fleets have already adopted company policies designed to reduce distractions while driving and manufacturers of in-cab communication devices include mechanisms that “lock out” the device or system while the vehicle is in motion. The ATA have long insisted that the ban should extend to all motorists and ATA supported individual states’ efforts to ban texting by all automobile drivers and say they will continue to work with affiliated state trucking associations and stakeholder groups to make that happen.

As proof of the trucking industry’s highway safety progress they point out that, over the last 5 years, the truck-involved fatality rate has declined 22 percent, the truck-involved injury rate has declined 25 percent, and both are at record lows.

The full ATA safety agenda is viewable here.