Truck idling is a difficult reality for fleet managers to manage. While all the systems and rules can be in place to ensure idling prevention, there will still be some instances when managing a fleet of trucks. The cost of truck idling is too high for companies to overlook these occurrences.

The National Service Center for Environmental Publications reports that truck idling costs up to a gallon of fuel for each hour. How much fuel does a semi-truck use idling? A truck that idles for up to 6 hours daily will consume 1,800 gallons a year. Idling also impacts your engine–the American Trucking Association says that wear will increase maintenance costs by $2,000 annually. This also has a long-term impact in shortening the life of the truck engine.

Beyond company costs and damage, truck idling also worsens the air quality we breunitathe. The World Health Organization reports that 4.2 million deaths each year are due to air pollution. During truck idling, 400 tons of particulate matter and 11 million tons of carbon dioxide, and 55,000 tons of nitrogen oxides go into the environment from truck idling.

So why do truckers let their truck idle? One reason is necessary and keeps the truck drivers alive: climate control. If their truck does not have an Auxiliary Power Unit, then they need to keep the engine on to prevent heat stroke or freezing to death. There are also other factors, such as road conditions, sudden accidents, and prolonged breaks. How then can fleet managers prevent unnecessary instances of truck idling?

When Truck Idling is Necessary

Truck idling is necessary for a life or death situation like keeping the drivers and the transported goods from freezing. This reason is especially crucial and valid during the winter months. Apart from extreme weather, truck idling cannot be avoided in situations such as traffic, running appliances from the electrical inverter to avoid battery drain, and building up air pressure for the brakes’ release.

Given these situations and circumstances, it’s important for fleet managers and drivers to know how long a semi-truck can stay idle legally? Note that the laws depend on the areas your trucks cover in their journeys. The corresponding fines also depend on the state or jurisdiction. The vehicle idle time also varies per state–from a few minutes to a few hours. Ticket fines range from $100 to $ 200 for a first time offense.

How Can Your Fleet Reduce Idling in Semi-Truck Engines?

You can implement several measures to prevent unnecessary truck idling among your drivers. The following strategies help manage the likelihood of idling even in a large fleet organization:

  • Have amenities and accommodations ready for drivers to stay in along their long journeys. Inform and remind them where they can comfortably rest and take breaks so that they don’t have to stay warm or cool inside the truck.
  • Have fuel tank heaters to prevent freezing or gelling. This also saves the diesel and maintains it as a liquid for the rest of the drive.
  • Use proper insulation and have the right ventilation set inside your trucks. If they feel they can rest inside the truck without the engine on, thanks to proper insulation or ventilation, then they will opt to turn the engine off instead.
  • Include the importance of truck idling prevention in your fleet safety program. Emphasize points such as why does my truck overheat while idling or why does my truck shake at idling. Don’t forget to include how to bypass idle shutdown in your points as well. Knowing these valuable answers will show your drivers the downsides to unnecessary truck idling. To balance the program’s points, make sure to list and remind them how long a semi truck can idle and how to prevent a prolonged period.
  • Auxiliary power units (APUs) installation reduces truck idle time from the use of other vehicle accessories like climate control systems and refrigerators. The APU will run these systems without the driver having to turn on the engine during their breaks.
  • Use an engine idle timer that will automatically shut down the engine after a specific period. We recommend partnering the idle limiter with technologies such as dash cameras and a driver coaching app like Netradyne. These can help spot any instances of idling and fleet managers can use the data to remind drivers of avoiding these instances. You can also use the captured videos and other behaviors to discuss any times idling was necessary. These valuable tools will help create a better picture of what it’s like on the road and guide your fleet towards a better overall performance.


Final Thoughts

There are many advantages to reducing unnecessary truck idling. With the right education, tools, and installations in your truck, your fleet company can save money, fuel, and the environment.

Read all about fleet safety 101 to continue learning.

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