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10 Ways to Make a Big-Rig Green

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Reducing the carbon footprint of a tractor-trailer seems like a monumental task, with all those tons of rubber, steel and smoke just churning down the road like a moving smokestack. Some might have the financial clout to buy a new green semi outright, with all the aerodynamics and fuel-efficiency of a hybrid passenger vehicle, but most truckers have to think more cost-effectively than that.

Here are 10 ways to start turning a big-rig into an environmental marvel, one improvement at a time:

1) Fuel-efficiency is the name of the game. To truly get the best mileage from a big-rig, it’s best to switch to a cleaner burning fuel than ordinary diesel, which at the end of 2012 was topping off at about $4 a gallon. Switching to a natural gas or bio-diesel engine — or even a hybrid or electric model — may cost truckers up front, but in the long haul, the savings is quickly recovered.

2) Idle time is isn’t just the devil’s playground; it’s the fuel industry’s bread and butter. When truckers keep idle time low, they burn less fuel and reduce their fuel consumption. It’s as simple as that.

3) Improving aerodynamics by installing a roof deflector will improve wind deflection — another improvement that greatly improves fuel efficiency.

4) Some truckers even install side wind skirts below their trailers to conceal their wheel wells and further reduce wind resistance and improve aerodynamics.  You can learn more about the truckpocalypse from Trucker Classifieds.

5) Some truck fleets and independent contractors have installed special GPS software on their rigs to ensure drivers take the most fuel-efficient routes. This includes not just the shortest routes but also those with the least steep inclines to navigate.

6) Local and state governments can pitch into reduce the carbon emissions of all tractor-trailers by reducing speed limits for trucks to just 65 mph. This might make a haul take slightly longer, but it will also make the air we breath less clogged with fossil fuel pollution. According to the American Trucking Associations, tractor-trailers travelling 65 mph burn up 27 percent less gas than those moving at 75 mph.

7) Pushing local and state legislators to make adequate road improvements will lead the way to even more idle time for big rigs and less fuel consumption.

8) Supporting grassroots efforts to change industry standards for the fuel economy of both tractor-trailers and other smaller vehicles will lead to more economical green vehicles being manufactured with better fuel efficiency overall.

9) Use stacked trailer combinations when possible to keep more engines off the road.

10) Some green big-rig models just put on the market, like the Mercedes-Benz Aero, even utilize a trailer with wrap-around tail fins that extend more than 1 foot from the back door, providing the least amount of wind resistance possible.

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