Gas prices topped $3 earlier this month, and they haven’t fallen since. While rising fuel prices are hard on the average consumer, it’s especially hard on those in the (trucking) tractor-trailer industry, considering most big rigs get about 7 miles to the gallon (MPG). A truck driver can use over 140 gallons of diesel fuel each day he runs his route. Big rigs carry about 250-300 gallons of diesel at a cost of about $3.33 a gallon – or about $1,000 for a fill-up that will take a truck 1,500 miles. Fleet management costs can up add quickly.
Truck drivers’ main concern is that the higher price of gas affects the cost of shipping. Increased shipping costs means fewer items get shipped, and that can mean fewer jobs for drivers. Some drivers say rising gas costs are pushing independent drivers out of the business.
Some drivers say that high costs affect the type of freight they’re able to carry. Drivers get paid more to carry certain types of freight. But those jobs are in high demand, and there are less of them. Therefore drivers are forced to take whatever freight they can get. Others say the rising cost of gas and truck maintenance might increase the chances of getting into commercial truck accidents because they may entice some drivers to skimp on safety.
Fuel costs are the second largest variable cost in the trucking industry and experts predict fuel prices will continue rising. Improving fuel efficiency will help both trucking companies and owner operators maintain profitability and keep trucking for the long haul.
Typical strategies to reduce fuel consumption include: reducing idle time, maintaining proper tire pressure, and eliminating quick accelerations. Many companies have also gone a step further to install additional fleet tracking system equipment on trucks and spend more time in trip routing to reduce additional unnecessary stops.
More advanced ways to improve truck fuel economy:
- Reduce weight by avoiding unnecessary accessories like heavy chrome pieces.
- Install aerodynamic skirts and components to manage air friction.
- Manage your speed and using cruise control to avoid accelerations and burn less fuel.
- Utilize a GPS Fleet Tracking System
- Inspect your truck routinely and make sure it is in good repair. A properly running truck will often get better fuel mileage.
- Consider a hybrid model truck if you are looking at investing in new equipment.