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In November, we delved into the rapidly evolving transportation industry and explored the many changes on the horizon that both carriers and drivers will face over the next few decades.

But what we haven’t yet investigated is how upcoming American and Canadian policy changes and regulations on pollutants will shape the industry.

Over the last 15 years, many governments have implemented significant regulations on the manufacturers of engines and vehicles, requiring them to decrease environmental pollutants.

Regulations were recently proposed by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) putting strict fuel economy standards on trucks and engines. Specifically, the NHTSA and EPA proposed that these new regulations be implemented first on 2021 model year trucks and then be phased in through to 2027. In addition, changes would be required on trailers starting in 2018 to improve their fuel efficiency, and would also be phased in until 2027.

Following the UN Climate Summit in Paris, where 150 world leaders gathered to engage in dialogue and solution-seeking on the topic of climate change, the suggested policy changes are both understandable and important. Few in the industry dispute the fact that we should be committed to reducing the amount of pollutants being released into the air by commercial vehicles. Likewise, the industry is equally interested in reducing our fuel use, which will result in decreased fuel bills thereby improving the bottom line.

But carriers are forced to consider the cost of these new regulations. These newly proposed standards will add approximately US $12,000 to the cost of a highway tractor – no small increase. Companies are evaluating how they will adapt to the financial reality ushered in by these policy changes.

Players across the industry are engaging in dialogue about what regulatory changes – and accompanying costs – are reasonable and feasible. They’re also discussing whether the technology is, in fact, ready for commercial use without abundant glitches and downtime which many companies can’t afford.

The good news for carriers is that irrespective of the regulations that are put into place and the design efficiencies introduced to trucks and trailers, drivers still play a large role when it comes to impacting fuel economy.

Well-trained, safe and fuel-efficient drivers get the optimal fuel economy out of any truck or trailer they’re driving. On the other hand, drivers poorly trained in fuel-efficient operating procedures will fail to get the most of even the most advanced, efficiently designed vehicle.
At CHET – Commercial Heavy Equipment Training – we understand that the best way a driving fleet can maximize its fuel economy is to employ drivers who have been expertly trained to get the greatest possible mileage out of their fuel.

Individuals considering a career in the transportation field should invest in a driving school like CHET where instructors are trained in the science of driving safely and reduction of fuel use. There are also training programs available, such as SmartDriver for Highway Trucking, designed for the purpose of helping fleets and their drivers cut costs by teaching them safe driving techniques that reduce fuel use.

For a limited time, the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario is providing this training at no cost to fleets. CHET offers this training service as a staple for drivers at Musket Transport Ltd. in addition to recommending our Corporate Training course. CHET students are automatically enrolled into SmartDriver Training and upon successful completion, receive their SmartDriver certificate. Due to their fuel efficiency, they will have a competitive edge over other new drivers.

Fuel efficient drivers receive bonuses for exceeding minimum fuel standards and have a better appreciation for maximizing their equipment. Spinoff benefits include a greater degree of safety in their driving and the ability to lower maintenance costs for their carrier.

Kudos to Volvo trucks North America for Moving Towards Renewable Diesel Fuel

On December 9th, Volvo Trucks North America approved the use of renewable diesel fuel for all its proprietary engines. In doing so, it became the first original equipment manufacturer to sanction the use of hydrocarbon renewable diesel fuel. A derivative of animal oils and fats, renewable diesel fuel is made using a different process than traditional diesel. Increased use of this form of renewable form of diesel will improve environmental impacts, reduce maintenance costs compared to alternative fuels, and pose no warranty risk to Volvo models with a Volvo engine.

Stay tuned for new policy and regulation changes, and the impact they will have on commercial drivers and the evolving transportation industry as a whole.