National Truck Driver Appreciation Week—Just One Week To Say Thanks For Moving All My Stuff?

September 16, 2015 | 1:47 pm
Dave Cooke
Senior Vehicles Analyst

Every day seems to bring a new internet holiday, from “Talk Like a Pirate” Day to National Cat Day (like we need an excuse to share cat videos or say “Arrrrh”?). But while the internet may have alerted you that it’s National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, it’s no passing fad—at 27 years strong, NTDAW is a reminder of all the hard work that goes into moving goods around the country and some of the unsung folks that help drive our economy.

Truckers need a little love

The trucking business is not for the faint of heart—you only need to spend a few minutes on a site like this to read story after story about some of the inanity truckers have to deal with.  But most of us probably take the hard work of these folks for granted. If we ever stop to think about a truck, it’s likely because we just passed one on the freeway, wondering why it was going so slow (Answer:  Fuel Economy). What we should be thinking about instead is, “Hey, I wonder if my [insert product] is in there?”

As I highlighted a few months ago, trucks move pretty much everything we buy. If you see a truck on the road, it’s on its way somewhere to either pick up or drop off some desired goods—whether that’s necessities like food or even shelter or simply ridiculous things like this mitten for people who just can’t stop holding hands. But regardless of what they’re moving, they’re moving it for us, and we should show ‘em a little love.

EPA and NHTSA are showing their support by trying to save truckers a few bucks

I wrote on Monday about how fuel economy regulations can save fleets money—this is why the American Trucking Associations (the same folks that bring you the NTDAW) are supportive of the latest fuel economy regulations. The trade association for independent truckers, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is a bit more reserved in its support for the rules but notes: “OOIDA members want to drive fuel efficient, reliable and reasonably priced trucks. A rule that helps make that happen is something that will work for everyone.” And that’s why we’re so focused on these regulations— done wisely, they have the ability to be a win-win-win: for the economy, for the environment, and for truckers.

While there is still additional progress to be made, trucks have cleaned up their act substantially over the past two decades, reducing smog-forming pollutants by 95% and soot by 90%.  These emissions reductions have resulted in enormous health benefits and cleaner air for everyone, but truckers have faced additional technology costs for cleaner diesel engines, and there were some hiccups in deployment that resulted in additional downtime for some vehicles. It’s understandable that the industry would be wary of further regulation.

But the newly proposed regulations are completely different—in addition to providing a cleaner environment for everyone, they will also be driving technologies to the market that save fuel. And the first phase of these regulations is already proving successful, with new trucks flying off the lots.

The next phase of fuel economy regulations will help further evolve vehicles like this Freightliner Cascadia.

The next phase of fuel economy regulations will build on the success of the first phase and help make the 10.7 mpg this 2014 Freightliner Cascadia achieved the norm, not the exception.

While there may be an increase in upfront costs, these technologies pay for themselves in short order, which puts money back in the hands of truckers and fleets by cutting fuel costs over the vehicle’s useful life. These rules give the industry a long lead-time and are built largely on proven technologies, which means that durability and reliability will not be an issue. And for those independent truckers who often purchase used vehicles, our analysis has shown that these savings will continue to pay off in the secondary market as well.

We can do more for truckers

This week we should be showing our appreciation for the trucking industry and the role truckers play in driving our economy. One way we can do that is by ensuring that truck manufacturers are helping the industry move forward—and this is where they need a little assistance.

The proposed fuel economy and global warming emissions regulations do not do enough to maximize fuel economy for the folks pulling the freight. The EPA and NHTSA can and must do better, driving even further investment in efficiency technologies to keep truckers saving fuel for decades to come. Getting ‘em to do that is how I’m going to show my appreciation for truckers this week—what are you going to do?

Do you want to learn more about fuel economy regulations? Click here, or feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below.