5 Tips For Truck Drivers For Idling A Big Rig Safely

Truck Driver at the Wheel at Truck Stop

1972 Blue and Silver Kenworth Cabover Truck As a professional truck driver, you’ll know in the real world of trucking, in spite of the anti-idling laws, it’s sometimes it’s necessary to let a truck idle.

Idling a truck is letting the truck engine run while the driver is not behind the wheel. Sometimes the driver is not in the truck when it’s idling.

The fact that the driver is not in the truck, can be a questionable practice at the best of times.

Why Idling a Big Rig Isn’t Recommended

  1. Idling a truck can be dangerous.
  2. Idling can shave life off the engine itself. Engines only run a fixed number of hours before they experience fatigue and start to breakdown. The hours spent idling an engine are more wisely used toward hauling loads for money, than running needlessly all night at a truck stop.
  3. Idling a big rig is illegal in many jurisdictions.

In spite of the dangers and wear and tear on the truck engine, 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 fuel, which gel quite readily.

Here are some practical tips to follow, when the driver may find it necessary to leave a truck engine running.

Related > A Trucker’s Guide to the Best Truck Engines + The Worst

5 Tips For Idling a Big Rig

There are a few things truckers should remember.

The most common reason to leave a truck idling, is severe weather. Both extreme cold and extreme hot weather, can present conditions where the driver may find it necessary to idle the truck, in order to be comfortable.

However, it can be a dangerous practice, if safety precautions aren’t followed.

  1. Idle the engine at 900 RPM to 1200 RPM. This ensures the oil has sufficient pressure to reach the top of the heads in the engine.
  2. Crack the windows or bunk vents open. This helps 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.
  3. Check for exhaust leaks. Be sure to check for any exhaust leaks during your morning pre-trip inspection. Do check for poorly routed exhaust from an APU which may collect underneath the cab or sleeper. I know of a truck driver in Arkansas who died recently, as he slept in his bunk, from this very situation.
  4. Park the vehicle for best air flow. If possible, when it’s necessary to idle, try to park cross ways to the wind direction. This way the wind can help blow away any fumes lingering underneath the truck.
  5. Don’t leave the truck with the engine idling.  Turn off the truck if it’s necessary to leave the truck. Idling and unoccupied rigs are prime targets for thieves.

Idling a big rig is really only warranted in extreme conditions. But, 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.

Related > 10 Safety Tips All Professional Drivers Should Follow

The Trucking Company KNOWS When the Truck Is Idling

New truck drivers should be aware that their trucking company can now tell just how much they are idling their truck by downloading the data from the truck’s computer.

It’s wise to make a good impression on the boss, save fuel and make the truck engine last longer, by not idling the truck unless the conditions are extreme and it’s necessary.

Truck Driver Standing Beside Blue Peterbilt

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