The Efficient Road Ahead: How Smart Trucking Can Improve Fuel Economy

Posted - October 5, 2015

Unpredictable fuel prices, rebounding economy, and shifts in environmental consciousness are leading to changes in how trucking companies run their operations. 

The trucking industry is no stranger to change. For better or worse, everything from food safety to hours of service has been examined by the government, public, and trucking insiders. But there is one growing development that catching the eye of industry and public alike, this shift is smarter trucking.


This movement was birthed in a perfect storm of factors. Businesses throughout all industries are re-examining their operations and adapting to the impacts of recent economic turns. Not to mention, expanding interest in reducing carbon footprints has companies looking into how to make changes to help the environment while not sacrificing the bottom line. A significant chunk of the trucking business expenses?  It’s no surprise ??? fuel. 

Smart trucking finds its root in common sense. Driving at a sensible speed helps saves fuel. According to a Goodyear report published in 2004, the optimal fuel economy for an 18-wheeler is around 60 mph. Though slower than most highway speed limits, this speed can be maintained manually or with road speed limiters. Driving near the suggested 60 mph mark also reduces aerodynamic resistance.

There is a catch in driving slower. Driving at slower speeds can mean longer trip time and fewer earnings.

However, modern technology is an emerging advantage in the driver’s fuel-saving toolkit. Some new fleet management systems include mobile equipment, analytic calculations, and up-to-date fuel data. Truckers and operators can see how their driving stacks up against preset benchmarks and then adjust accordingly.

Where the Tech Meets the Rubber Road


While high tech can be a crucial asset to fleets across the country, some of the smartest ideas are also the easiest. Try some of these tips to help improve your bottom line:

Reduce Extra Weight
While truckers may have their hands tied when it comes to their assigned cargo load, they can decide on what items travel with them and what stays at home. Keeping extra truck and in-cab items to a minimum can help reduce fuel usage. According to the American Trucking Association, ???an extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your mpg by up to 2%.’

Cruise More and Idle Less
A not so technical means of saving fuel is using cruise control whenever possible and minimizing idling during long stretches of inactivity. To limit unnecessary idling, drivers can invest in auxiliary power units which can pay for itself in fuel savings over time.  

Show Your Truck Some Love
Some quick fixes for your truck can include keeping your tires properly inflated or installing trailer skirting. Too little or too much air in tires decrease fuel economy and adding trailer skirts can improve aerodynamics. Besides driving too quickly, hard breaking, rapid acceleration, and excessive engine revving can all add up to more costs.

Whether its high or low tech, savings are within reach for any driver. Everything from taking a look at driving habits on the road to installing intelligent vehicle systems can improve fuel economy. A better fuel economy leads to more environmental sustainability and more savings in drivers’ pockets.