A few weeks ago I was driving back to Rhode Island from Ohio. We left Ohio at 4:00 AM in the morning in order to avoid as much traffic as possible. It was also 80 degrees at 4:00 AM.

Traveling on I71, just south of Cleveland, we came to a rest area. To my wife’s surprise, I pulled into the rest area. The first thing I noticed was the number of trucks parked on the ramp into the rest area and the parking lot was full of trucks. Guess what, all the trucks we saw had their lights on, some with engines running and others with their APU’s (i.e. Diesel Auxiliary Power Units) running. Based on the temperature I am sure they were running their AC units to stay cool.

Just think about the amount of diesel fuel they are using and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions they are generating. We cannot blame this on the drivers.  According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), drivers can only drive for eleven (11) hours. After driving eleven hours, the drivers must stop and rest for ten (10) hours.  In addition, the driver then has to stop for thirty-four (34) consecutive hours after driving for 7-8 consecutive days. If that driver is in the middle of his run and hits the 8th day, and is not home, he either spends those required rest hours in a hotel, or he spends it in his sleeper berth and idles his engine in order to have HVAC, communications and entertainment functions.

What is the cost of this? On average, a typical truck idles 7.2 hours per day, 255 days per year. If fuel cost are $4.00 per gallon, then the total annual cost of idling is over $7,000. In addition, the truck will generate 22.2 lbs. of greenhouse gas emissions for every one (1) gallon of diesel fuel used. In this case, 1,862 gallons times 22.2 lbs. equals 41,336 pounds, or 18.78 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. As a comparison, the average automobile generates between 7-8 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

By the way, not only is there the above to consider. Currently there are 48 states and cities which have enacted “No Idling Regulations”. These are actual fines for idling in these specific areas. Example, California regulations state no more than five (5) minutes of idling. If you exceed this you can be fined a minimum of $300 for the first penalty and subsequent penalties can range from $1,000 to $10,000. Please visit American Transportaion Reserach Institute to see which states and cities have regulations that may affect you.

Upon leaving, guess what we encountered, an exit ramp full of trucks. Wow, what an opportunity to save fuel cost and reduce emissions.