Trucker Mama: Earth Day and 18 Wheelers: What's already been accomplished?

Think green.

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Semi-trucks and trailers

You may think this is a test question, asking which one doesn’t fit.

It most certainly is not.

The industry has been considering environmental impact for decades.  The industry started the conversation years ago about real-time emission reduction and how to improve technology to increase energy efficiency.

This will lead to a smaller carbon footprint.  You might be like me – I recognized that a smaller footprint was better, and I had no idea how you got a smaller one.

Your carbon footprint (thank you, Wikipedia) is defined as: the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an individual, event, organization or product expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent.  This made me wonder: why do we care about carbon dioxide equivalent.  Burning fossil fuels (which trucks naturally have a tendency to do at a fast rate) puts more carbon dioxide in the air – a greenhouse gas.  Leading to the greenhouse effect, which is causing the planet to warm up.  Melting ice caps, and (in Trucker Mama’s humble opinion) giving us strange seasons and unpredictable weather and a million other documented issues.

Even the un-sciency like me can put all this together, the industry is way ahead of me - starting the conversation and leading the change versus sitting idly by waiting for legislation.

Nearly a decade ago, the industry’s major associations and lobbying groups supported policies designed to reduce fuel consumption, shrinking the footprint.  Seven years ago the ATA proactively lobbied congress for the following changes:

  • Enact a national 65 mph speed limit and govern truck speeds at 65 mph or slower to reduce fuel consumption;

  • Increase funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program, a valuable voluntary greenhouse gas reduction program designed to increase energy efficiency while significantly reducing air pollution;

  • Support national fuel economy standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks leading to lower emissions through reduced fuel consumption;

  • Implement financial incentives in the way of tax credits or grants to expedite the introduction of idling reduction equipment across the nation;

  • Invest in infrastructure improvements to fix the nation’s most critical bottlenecks, easing congestion and saving 32 billion gallons of fuel and reducing carbon emissions by 314 million tons over 10 years;

  • Fund research and development in new technologies that will improve average fuel consumption and generate greater fuel efficiency;

  • Promote the use of more productive truck combinations resulting in fewer truck miles traveled and saving more than 20.5 billion gallons of diesel fuel and reducing carbon emissions by 227 million tons over 10 years. (

This week, we explore the industry’s long-standing commitment.  Next week, we’ll look at where we stand today toward these lofty goals, and we’ll close the series with where we are headed in the future.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts and learning from your “green” experiences on the road.

Robert Swan said, “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

The trucking industry will not fall prey to this threat.

As always, I look forward to hearing what you think of this article and what else you would like to see in this spot. 

Take care of yourself and drive home safely,

Trucker Mama

P.S. While eighteen wheelers are not naturally “green,” much has and is being done to change this, as evidenced above.  The industry is committed for many important reasons to environmentally-friendly efforts.  Let’s explore next in our three-part series: Earth Day and 18 Wheelers: What is the purpose?