Putting the Brakes on an Unnecessary Cost

How can you lose ground while sitting still? This riddle sounds a bit silly, but it reveals a real issue. Any ideas?

Here’s the answer: Companies lose ground when they allow excessive truck idling during stops. The reasons for idling are many; they’ve certainly become a habit in many instances. But it’s a costly habit. In fact, more than 650,000 long-haul, heavy-duty trucks are left to idle at rest stops alone, and that leads to 685 million gallons of fuel wasted – up to $2 billion annually, according to the Argonne National Laboratory. Drivers often idle to keep the sleeper cabin warm, avoid cold starts or access TV or computers. Legitimate or not, it’s definitely a costly habit, and companies not only lose ground from a profit basis, but there is also an increase in emissions and excessive wear on the engine.


Consider these tips for reducing excessive idling within your own fleet:

Pay attention to the impact equipment choices and
accessories have on idling: ­
  • When you purchase or lease new equipment, look for engines that are equipped with devices that minimize idling and warm-up time automatically. These optimized engine idle systems start and stop the truck engine automatically to maintain a specific cab temperature, minimum battery charge or engine oil temperature. Drivers can select a desired temperature range and can even indicate a specified period of acceptable idling time. ­
  • If available, plug in electric engine heaters to minimize required idling time during warm-up, especially in cold weather. ­
  • Install a small generator or auxiliary power unit that provides heat, air conditioning and electrical power when the vehicle is parked, eliminating the need to keep the engine idling. Payback on this investment can be just one to two years, depending on how much the truck was idling before. ­
  • Buy WINTER-blended fuel when temperatures fall below 35 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent fuel gelling.
Provide driver education about idling time reduction and the cost implications at stake: ­
  • Remind drivers that there’s no need to exceed manufacturers’ recommendations for warm-up time – usually just 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the vehicle and ambient temperature. ­
  • To track individual patterns of behavior, you may want to investigate the addition of telematics devices to your fleet, which pinpoint the idle times of each vehicle. ­
  • Be sure your drivers know and follow any state anti-idling guidelines. Three states – Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire – have anti-idling laws on the books.

Here’s hoping these ideas help you solve your own riddle of excessive idling!