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Oct 27, 2009

Time for a Smarter Truck?

By Tami Deedrick

I had a brief crush on a gorgeous, young truck driver many years ago. Of all the things he told me, what’s stuck with me through the years was his strategy for staying awake on the road. He’d buy a cup (not a bottle or anything enclosed) of coffee and hold it in one hand. If he fell asleep, he’d drop the coffee on himself and wake up. Scary stuff.

I hadn’t thought about his stay-awake tactic in a long time but it came to mind as I was reading about the Hybrid Truck National Conference on the IBM Smarter Planet blog. At the conference, IBM will be releasing the results of its new study on Truck 2020, which is about making trucking smarter.

According to an IBM Truck 2020 video, trucks use more than 20 percent of on-road transportation energy and, while they represent only 8 percent of the vehicle market, they produce 40 percent of the nitrous oxide emissions. Not to mention, as fuel prices increase, those costs are passed on to the consumer who sees higher prices at local stores. Is it time for a smarter truck?

Those attending the conference think so. For many, it’s not just about cost-effective, greener trucks. Bill Van Amburg, senior VP at CALSTART, which is running the Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF), says, “High-efficiency trucks will be one of those green tech sectors that will help transform not just the truck industry but our nation.” The forum is talking about medium and heavy-duty hydroelectric, hybrid hydraulic, plug-in hybrid and eclectic vehicles for commercial and military use.

Smarter trucks for a smarter planet. Smart is good. And while we’re at it, can HTUF also keep my fatigued trucking buddy safer? I’ve been seeing commercials for a luxury car that detects if you fall asleep and brings you to a gentle stop. How strange would it be to wake up hours later on the side of the road? But you’d be safe and so would your fellow roadsters.

Buddy, if you’re listening, put down the cup of coffee and jump into a smart truck. You can see one today in Atlanta




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Interesting statistics about truck fuel consumption and emissions. Honestly, I would be shocked if a truck didn't burn more fuel--my cars weigh in between 1 to 1-1/2 tons. Trucks might weigh 20 to 40 tons.

Also, "... they represent only 8 percent of the vehicle market ...." If that statistic is to be used honestly, it better mean 8 percent of the transportation industry market. Again the previous weight comparison seems like it could level the playing field.

Maybe I'm reading too much between the lines, but a long time ago I was taught, statistics are for statisticians.

smart trucks would do great for the environment

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