Technology can ease the transition to new federal fuel standards

Fleet owners in both the public and private sector now have another reason to improve the efficiency of their operations with technology such as transportation management software. According to Electronic Component News, President Barack Obama officially unveiled a plan to impose tighter fuel efficiency standardsfor heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016. The announcement was a follow-up to a promise included in the most recent State of the Union address to take further action to limit climate change-inducing greenhouse gases from the transportation sector.

Targeting a major source of pollution
In a speech delivered at a Safeway distribution center in Upper Marlboro, Md., President Obama suggested reducing fuel usage in the commercial carrier industry would have three primary benefits. He said not only would it help the U.S. shed much of its dependence on imported oil, but it would lead to lower consumer-end prices for most products in the long run. When shipping companies are able to spend less on diesel, both suppliers and retailers can lower costs, which may eventually provide American households with more spending money. The third potential benefit is that increased fuel standards for heavy-duty trucks would have a profound influence on slowing the rate of climate change. ECN reported that even though large freight carriers make up just 4 percent of the vehicles on U.S. highways, they are responsible for nearly 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

A recent article in The Washington Post highlighted the fact that President Obama's most recent announcement represents the second major initiative to impose stronger regulations on the fuel consumption of large trucks in his administration. In September 2011, the federal government finalized a rule that would improve fuel efficiency in these vehicles by anywhere between 9 and 23 percent. While those measures were estimated to have cost the commercial carrier industry nearly $8 billion, the long-term effects could lead to $50 billion in fuel savings over time.

How can fleet owners prepare for these changes over the next two years?
The new regulations won't be finalized until March 2016, but fleet managers in a wide variety of industries may want to take advantage of the time they have to adjust to more stringent fuel standards on their own. With technology such as logistics software, businesses and public organizations can have more control over the many variables that go into operating large vehicles. Having a clearer picture of travel distance and customer information will make it easier to make more efficient use of existing diesel supplies.

The benefits of these tools aren't exclusive to the commercial carrier industry. In fact, President Obama's proposed fuel standards also apply to school buses, according to an article from School Transportation News. Implementing fleet management software solutions at public schools can be an especially effective strategy for reducing overhead costs in the long run. Many academic districts in cities throughout the U.S. already struggle to make the most of their limited budgets. This means any savings associated with reduced fuel usage could have a direct influence on the ability to free up additional money to spend on other important issues affecting education.

Finding ways to conserve fuel doesn't have to always arise as a reaction to announcements of new federal regulations. Using technology to streamline the day-to-day tasks of running a fleet is simply a smart business move. Shedding waste can make any organization more flexible and ready to adapt to changing industry trends. This means that no matter what happens in the future, managers can rest assured that their enterprises can maintain profitability in the long run.