Briefly noted: some anecdotal evidence that truckers are responding to rising fuel prices by slowing down.
Coast-to-coast trucker Lorraine Dawson says fellow drivers used to call her “Lead Foot Lorraine.” But with diesel fuel around $4 a gallon, she and other big-rig drivers have backed off their accelerators to conserve fuel….
Dawson said she’s cut her speed by five to 10 miles per hour to save money for her company. Many independent owner-operators have slowed even more, she said.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to confirm whether this is just a good story, or a sign of a legitimate trend. But at a minimum, it’s a great example of the sort of thing that people and businesses do to deal with higher fuel prices—they cut back on consumption.
Like pretty much anything, slowing down has both costs and benefits. The costs: truckers spend more time on the road, and shipments slow down a wee bit. The benefits: truckers save some cash on fuel, and the highways get a wee bit safer. But given the surprisingly steep cost of car crashes, and the enormous wealth we export to pay for fuel, I’d wager that lightening a lead foot is, in the big picture, pretty good for the economy.
Hat tip to groovalicious Gary D; photo by Geognerd, distributed under a Creative Commons license.
Matt the Engineer
Not to mention the sharp increase in fuel economy that likely follows even a slight speed decrease at freeway speeds for trucks. Air resistance must outweigh all other inefficiencies by quite a bit, as these things aren’t exactly aerodynamic.Ah, here’s a horsepower v speed graph. It’s not fuel economy, but you can get there indrectly using a brake-specific fuel consumption value for a diesel engine (which I’m too lazy to research).
Matt,That is a wonderful figure. So, traveling at 50 mph would require half the horsepower as traveling at 70? Is that based on trucks with any kind of aerodynamic attachments? Some tests indicate that drag could be reduced perhaps 20% with the right mix of attachments. Maybe higher prices will drive greater development of these approaches.
Matt the Engineer
(does a little reverse-Google magic…) Ah, here’s the original report it came from, and the source material(pdf) they used. Further, they used “Goodyear maintenance records” as their source data – so I’d guess it’s an average of truck styles on the road a decade or two ago. Hey, look at this great graph of MPG vs. weight for 55mph, 65mph, and 75mph.
Better yet, let’s promote shipping by rail, not by truck. Rail is much less costly, safer and less obnoxious to one and all on the highway.