In 2014, transportation accounted for 26% of the U.S.’s total greenhouse gas emissions, only second to electricity (30%). Primarily, this comes from burning fossil fuels – over 90% of fuel is petroleum-based, which includes common fossil fuels gasoline and diesel – and the largest global fleets are contributing to this. However, there are small but impactful measures fleets can take to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint, and many are already doing so.
The most environmentally conscious fleets are adopting electric and hydrogen fuel cell technology to increase trucking efficiency. Toyota and Nikola Motor are already investing in hydrogen fuel cell commercial trucks, part of an industry move toward electric engines. Programs like the Free and Secure Trade program (FAST) also help the cause. While the original impetus behind FAST was to expedite processing for commercial carriers who meet certain eligibility requirements, it also helps cut unnecessary idle and fuel waste by offering eligible drivers a “quick pass” instead of stopping and keeping the engine running.
But being environmentally friendly doesn’t have to start from the top or cost a lot of money. Fleet owners can make their individual fleets more sustainable by implementing simple processes into their workflow. Here are three ways to get started now:
Upgrade your fleet
Even if you don’t yet have the means to go 100% electric, there are plenty of ways to upgrade your fleet. For instance, tractor and trailer aerodynamic add-ons are often compatible with existing trucks after simple installation. The National Academy of Sciences reports a roof fairing, which minimizes wind drag and noise, can reduce fuel consumption by 7-10% at a cost of $500 to $1,000 per unit, while a gap reducer, which eliminates drag between the tractor and trailer, can by 2-3% percent at a cost of $300 to $500. Fleets can also add telematics technology to their trucks to track for maintenance repairs and any equipment issues. Regular maintenance ensures trucks are up to date and as “green” as possible – a properly working vehicle minimizes harmful emissions.
Optimized routing is another way to cater to the environment. Rerouting around traffic and choosing the shortest route helps fleets eliminate unnecessary fuel waste and fulfill the most deliveries in the shortest amount of time. The simplest, most effective way to optimize routing is with GPS vehicle tracking tools. By locating drivers closest to a certain delivery spot and choosing them to complete the job, or by identifying high-traffic areas for efficient pickups, telematics help fleets maximize their resources and eliminate waste at the same time.
Reward efficient drivers
More fleets ensure a “green” organization by educating and rewarding efficient drivers. When each driver feels individually responsible for the fleet’s sustainability, fleets will meet environmental goals as a team. Each speeding violation, hard brake, pointless idle and unauthorized hour behind the wheel means more carbon emissions in the air. Fleet managers can use telematics to first identify these instances, and then educate their drivers in best practices to avoid them – and subsequently when to reward their sustainable behavior, helping the entire fleet reduce its collective carbon footprint.
As transportation traffic increases, it is essential fleets have environmentally friendly practices in place to stay “green.” Trucking innovations are trending in a sustainable direction, and to supplement them, each individual fleet must do its part by upgrading its trucks, optimizing routing and rewarding efficient drivers. Those that do will gain a competitive advantage as 66% of people are now willing to buy more from or work with companies committed to positive social and environmental impact – all the more reason to start “greening” your trucking fleet this spring.