Heavy-Duty Innovation: Energy, Automation, and Technology in the Trucking Sector

From Securing America’s Future Energy

Trucking forms the backbone of the U.S. economy, currently moving more than $725 billion in annual revenue across the country. Yet as freight deliveries are set to grow 40 percent by 2040, smart policy is required to meet this demand while also improving roadway safety and fuel efficiency. A new report released today by SAFE identifies new technologies and policy recommendations that could lead to a safer, more efficient trucking industry.

SAFE’s analysis found:

  • At only 4 percent of the U.S. fleet, long-haul trucks account for 13 percent of daily petroleum consumption.
  • The adoption of linked 33-foot trailers, known as twin-33s, will result in an estimated 23 billion gallons of diesel saved by 2050.
  • The widespread use of existing platooning technologies could save up to 20 billion gallons of diesel fuel through 2050.
  • The trucking industry is likely to be an early implementer of autonomous vehicle technology because freight transportation presents a more predictable and less complex driving environment than urban roads. However, these efforts are being threatened by Congress, which has omitted heavy duty trucks from current autonomous vehicle legislation.

To encourage the adoption of these technologies and grasp these potential savings, SAFE proposes a range of potential policy recommendations that can provide the necessary clarity and flexibility for the trucking industry. These recommendations include:

  • Truck platooning should be exempted from existing following distance laws.
  • The federal government should pre-empt the ability of states to set their own autonomous standards.
  • Congress should transition to performance-based standards for commercial vehicles and, in the interim, authorize the use of twin 33-foot trailers.
  • The federal government should quantify the fuel efficiency implications of ADAS technologies.
  • The federal government should preserve the 5.9 GHz spectrum band for V2X communication.