trucks heat

Keep drivers cool while temperatures soar

June 19, 2018
As we enter summer time with day after day of scorching heat in some parts of the country, I think about drivers.

As we enter summer time with day after day of scorching heat in some parts of the country, I think about drivers and how glad I am that the industry has come up with a variety of solutions to help keep them cool during their non-driving hours.  But are we providing enough of these tools for those drivers who are delivering all the goods we need and want?

To start with there are some pretty basic things that can be done starting when the vehicle is spec’d and continuing through driving and parking practices. White paint for the exterior reduces thermal load. Pre-cooling the truck prior to turning off the engine means whatever auxiliary cooling system you use won’t have to work as hard to keep the bunk coo. Windshield curtains can keep the hot sun out of the truck. Parking on concrete instead of asphalt helps as well.

I am not naïve enough to think any of these things is going to keep a truck cool when it is 100°F outside. But they all make it a bit easier for whatever main solution you choose for cooling the truck to work more efficiently and for the bunk to stay cooler longer.

Diesel APUs, battery HVAC systems, truck stop electrification, automatic engine start/stop systems are various options that fleets can choose from when figuring out how to keep their drivers cool in the summer so drivers get the rest they need.

It was not that many years ago that on hot nights trucks would idle, burning fuel in an effort to make sure the driver was cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Fortunately those days are gone. Needlessly idling wastes fuel and puts a dent in fuel economy. And even with fuel prices at today’s low levels, it doesn’t make sense to idle and waste.

Our Confidence Report on Idle Reduction provides a comprehensive overview of proven idle-reduction technologies. We don’t endorse one technology over another because each fleet has its own operating parameters and idling goals, but there is detailed information that you can use as a starting point for your decision making.

Take a look at it for ideas on how to keep drivers cool for the waning days of summer and early days of fall. And while you’re at it, you might want to check out heating options because winter is not that far behind.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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