Intelligent Idling: Trucking Tips

March 23, 2017 4:01 pm Published by Comment

Truck drivers enjoy a profession that keeps them on the go and moves our country forward. The multiple driving opportunities for great pay, benefits, and home time continues to put this growing career in the fast lane.

There’s not too much idling around here – and that goes for our trucks too! But why not?

Well, idling a truck happens. Maybe it’s traffic, or maybe the weather is just that punishing that shutting down seriously risks your comfort and safety. Most of the time, however, idling is overused and overappreciated. So, let’s slow those RPMs for a minute to consider why idling should be avoided AND how to do it shrewdly when required.

Idling is Not Ideal

First, know that idling isn’t great for your rig. Modern diesel engines are built tough as nails, but idling too much will shorten their life. Idling may result in lower engine running temperatures, therefore failing to burn off fuel impurities that may linger – and build up – in your engine. And if you’re idling too low, you may also fail to create the oil pressure needed to properly lubricate the entire engine properly. Further, running an engine anytime results in wear, so why create more wear than you need to?

Second, excessive idling costs you. Obviously, you’ll be burning more fuel the longer your engine runs. While fuel prices are healthily lower than they have been in recent memory, the appetite of a big rig diesel means idling can quickly add up. Even more, many jurisdictions – California comes to mind – have passed substantial limitations on idling in order to protect against the harmful effects of air pollution. Idling where and when you shouldn’t may result in significant fines!

Finally, idling for long periods has been blamed for negative health effects caused by exhaust fumes – serious ones. Running the engine while not moving has been known to allow noxious gases to seep into the cab. Poisonous fumes are not good roommates for the sleeping driver.

But what if you have to idle?

Sometimes you just have to do some idling. As we mentioned earlier, the most common scenarios are likely where heavy traffic defeats your other options, and where extreme weather makes shutting off your source of heat or cool air downright dangerous. If you must idle, take extra steps for safety:

  • Do not leave the rig – obviously, thieves love an easy target
  • Crack a window or two to ensure proper ventilation of any harmful fumes
  • Park in the shade to stymie that punishing sun (in summer) or take advantage of sunlight’s warmth in winter
  • Angle your rig where the wind will cut across, increasing the chances fumes will be pushed away
  • If at all possible, only idle enough to get comfortable and safe
  • Pre-cool or pre-heat the cab during those last few miles of driving, while the engine is in top shape to regulate its temperature

If you follow these tips, you should stay efficient, safe, and out of trouble – a fine place to be.😊

Bonus Tip:

Did you know that the transportation industry is estimated to be short by about 50,000 drivers? In such a dynamic environment, safe and reliable drivers have the upper hand on landing a great position with just about any company. But don’t settle. Drive with the best!

Are you ready to learn more about what Smith Transport has to offer?

Give one of Smith Transport’s recruiters a call at 866.265.3718 or take a moment to apply online. We certainly look forward to getting to know you.

And while you’re at it, get to know us and give us a follow on Facebook and Twitter!

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