Driving habits that impact truck performance

Driving a passenger automobile is quite different from driving a long-haul truck. There are things a passenger vehicle can easily do that will require significant effort for those driving a long-haul truck. Regardless of whether you’re new to truck driving or a seasoned driver, here are seven truck driving habits to avoid.

1. Speeding

Speeding is not only dangerous for trucks, it’s also quite expensive. Because the cost of diesel is so high, it’s important for drivers to drive at efficient speeds. This means avoiding speeding and excessive braking. Setting a truck’s maximum speed to 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour could save more than $1 billion in fuel costs per year.

2. Rapid acceleration

Rapid acceleration will strain the engine and waste fuel. The proper way to accelerate a heavy-duty truck is to gently press down on the gas pedal and switch into high gear as the truck gradually speeds up. 

3. Excessive idling

Every year, $3 billion is spent on fuel to power idle truck engines. This is the equivalent of 1,800 gallons of diesel per truck, per year. Truck drivers need to follow laws and regulations for idling and should consider using an auxiliary power unit (APU) or generator if they need power for longer periods of time.

4. Hard braking

Truck drivers can avoid hard braking by practicing defensive driving and anticipating stoplights, motorists and other challenging road conditions. Another option is to coast for a bit before applying the brakes.

5. Applying the brakes when going downhill and on steep inclines

Pressing down on the brakes for an extended period of time causes significant friction between the rotor and shoes or pads. Excessive heat can cause crystallized material to form on the pad and shoes, hardening the surface and affecting the overall performance of the brakes. When going downhill, shift into a lower gear and let the engine braking take over.

6. Improperly warming the vehicle

If the outdoor temperature is 32°F or below, give the engine about three to five minutes to warm up. Doing so will help prevent unnecessary strain and tension.

7. Driving on underinflated tires

Long-haul trucks carry heavy loads for long periods of time. If just one of the tires is underinflated, the rolling resistance will increase drag, which will waste fuel. Driving with underinflated tires can also cause flats or blowouts, decrease the lifespan of the tires, and increase the risk of an accident. Be sure to regularly check tire pressure and inflate tires as needed.