Idling a big rig is sometimes necessary for the truck driver.
However, back in the 1990’s, between the rising price of diesel fuel and the introduction of the first ‘no idling laws’ by the state of California, idling the truck engine came to the forefront of the trucking industry.
Now 20 years later, idling the truck for long periods of time is illegal in many jurisdictions.
Certainly anti-idling legislation has saved untold thousands of gallons of fuel and lowered the trucking industry’s environmental footprint.
Idling the truck engine also shaves life off the engine itself, as engines can run only a fixed number of hours before they experience breakdown. The hours are better put toward hauling loads for money than running needlessly all night at a truck stop.
All that said however, there are times when engine idling becomes the lesser of two evils.
This is especially true in very cold weather since the introduction of the new bio-diesel fuels which gel quite readily.
Tips For Idling a Big Rig
There are a few things truckers should remember should they experience bad weather on their trip and need to idle the truck. It can be a dangerous practice, if safety precautions aren’t followed.
- Idle the engine at 900 RPM to 1200 RPM to ensure the oil has enough pressure to reach the top of the heads.
- Crack the windows or bunk vents open to help keep the air in the cab fresh and fume free. Fumes from the engine can enter the truck cab and have been linked to a higher cancer rate in truck drivers as well as death by asphyxiation.
- Be sure to check for any exhaust leaks during your morning pre-check. Even check for poorly routed exhaust from an APU which may collect underneath the cab or sleeper. APU fumes recently killed a truck driver in Arkansas as he slept in his truck bunk.
- If possible, when it’s necessary to idle, try to park cross ways to the wind direction, so the wind can help blow away any fumes lingering underneath the truck.
- Don’t leave the truck with the engine idling. Shut it off if it’s necessary to go into the truck stop. Idling and unoccupied rigs are prime targets for thieves.
- Idling a big rig is really only warranted in extreme conditions. It never ceases to amaze me how many drivers idle their trucks all night long, when an extra blanket would keep them just as warm. If you’re new to the trucking industry, be aware that the trucking company can now tell just how much you are idling his truck by downloading the information from the truck’s computer.
If you want to make a good impression on the boss, save fuel and make the truck last longer, don’t idle the truck unless the conditions are extreme and it’s necessary.