Sometimes called “the last cowboys,” many truckers are not happy about the end of the era of cheap oil. Their trucking firms are slowing big rigs down, rewarding drivers to get better gas mileage, and punishing those with a lead foot.
Oil prices affect the cost of everything, especially those items shipped overland via big rigs. Most of these heavy haulers only average about 5 miles a gallon (though what do you expect from an 80,000 pound truck?) As you might imagine, the cost of fuel eats into profits…so companies like Titan Transfer LLC have limited the top speed of its trucks to just 65 mph, reports the Wall Street Journal. Companies are also offering financial incentives who hit fuel economy goals, in the case of Titan, about 7 mpg…a 40% fuel economy increase.
Companies like Titan spend tens of millions of dollars on diesel fuel every year (Titan itself spent $24 million in 2010) and for every 5 mph they slow down a truck, it gets about a ½ mpg better. Black boxes equipped in the trucks monitor their speed, distance, even the gear they are in, and if you get caught going too fast, you could be fired. These devices, along with anti-idling technologies that save fuel while the trucks sit motionless and numerous other fuel saving technologies (and even electric big rigs!) we’re talking about some serious environmental and financial savings for the trucking companies.
Unfortunately, the truckers themselves are not huge fans…and who can blame them? With an emphasis on fuel economy, many trucks find their routes shorter, but the driving time longer, which works out to a lighter paycheck than they are used to (truckers are paid per mile.) Alas, it looks like the last cowboys might finally be reigned in.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.