Tractor trailers use a lot of gas. The trucking industry and related professions also employ a lot of people, and are a vital link in our supply chain that gets us food, electronics… just about everything from production to the store. We need trucks, and we need truckers… but we need those trucks to be a lot more fuel efficient. Why truckers haven’t already pursued green technology to pad their profit margin, I don’t know, but a new report from Calstart might change some minds.
Called “Delivering Jobs”, the report suggests that over eight years, trucking companies could save $120,000 per truck. This money could then be used to create 120,000 jobs by 2030. But is it really that simple?
According to the Calstart study, medium and heavy-duty trucks account for just 4% of all vehicles on the road, but consume 20% of all diesel and gasoline used in this country. This is because most trucks get 5-6 mpg, and many of these vehicles travel thousands of miles every week. The average lifespan of a big rig is about 500,000 miles. That means a single big rig could consume 100,000 gallons of gas or diesel over the course of its lifetime. If we could cut the amount of fuel used by truckers in half, it would make a huge dent in our national daily consumption. And as I have said before, using less fuel means more money in the pockets of truckers and trucking companies. But would this really lead to more jobs?
The fact is, this report makes a lot of assumptions, like that the money saved on fuel would go towards hiring more truckers. But there are a lot of outside forces to take into account. What if freight trains play a larger part in delivering goods? Would we still need more drivers? Would trucking companies really invest in new drivers… or even more efficient vehicles, once they realize how much money they could save? Would it be better to have more efficient trucks, or more people employed?
There is some good news as President Obama has finally signed legislation that will regulate the trucking industry and mandate better fuel economy. I am still baffled as to why truckers themselves wouldn’t have done this to begin with. After all, we could all use a few more dollars in our wallets.