Platooning Trucks: Safer, Faster, Cheaper?

Two years ago Governor Jay Nixon vetoed legislation to allow “platooning” trucks.  Last year the Senate and House bills didn’t go anywhere.  But maybe they’ll be back again this year?  Washington Post reports on the technology.  See it here.

Pull Quote: If you look to the next lane and see two 18-wheelers roar past at 70 mph with just 10 yards between them, you’ll probably think they are dangerously close. In this high-tech age, that may no longer be true. In fact, it might be just the opposite, and it might even end up saving you money.

A wave of new technology intended to make trucks safer — using radar, cameras and reflective light scanning — is sweeping the industry. By next year, much of it may be combined to put pairs of trucks on the road at a distance that before would not have been possible or safe… Trucks are involved in 11 percent of fatal crashes, although they make up just 4 percent of vehicles on the road, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Ten percent of truck fatalities are rear-end crashes — three times as many as rear-end collisions between two cars….

Trucking companies spent about $90 billion on diesel fuel last year. Firms spend the most paying drivers, but buying diesel often is the second-biggest expense, sometimes amounting to 20 percent of operating costs. A truck tucked in the slipstream of another tractor-trailer can save 10 percent on fuel. But the truck in front also will burn about 5 percent less fuel. Why? Part of the drag on a truck plowing into the wind is caused by turbulent air that tumbles off the top and sides of the trailer. When two trucks pair up closely, the air flows more smoothly from the first to the second, reducing that turbulence….

 

Originally in October 30 MOScout.