Earth Day challenge issued to truck fleets

As the 40th anniversary of Earth Day approaches tomorrow, Wheels Inc., a billion-dollar fleet leasing company, has issued a challenge: be greener. To mark the occasion, Wheels has launched the EcoWheels Green Driver Challenge. The program will run through July 1.

earthday2.jpg“Small changes in driving habits can have a big impact on fuel efficiency and, intrinsically, the environment,” said Dan Frank, president of Wheels Services. “The EcoWheels Green Driver Challenge is another opportunity for Wheels and our clients to make sure that we are using the most sustainable driving practices.”

The purpose of the challenge is for fleet drivers to learn about and pledge to adopt sustainable driving practices to minimize the environmental impact of their driving.

SimplexGrinnell, one of Wheel’s clients, will be encouraging its drivers to participate. SimplexGrinnell runs a fleet of 7,000 vehicles.

“Our company is strongly committed to the environment and to reducing our carbon footprint,” said SimplexGrinnell president James Spicer. “By participating in the Green Driver Challenge, we can engage our drivers to do their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and add the incentive of tracking in real time the positive effect their commitment has on the environment.”

The EcoWheels Green Driver Challenge is a way to encourage drivers to commit to practices like reducing idling time, checking tire pressure and employing efficient route planning – all things that anyone involved in the trucking industry should be doing these days anyway because it’s simply good business. But as we all know, that is not always the case.

Anyone interested in the program can register at a special website. Once there, they will indicate what actions they plan to take. Upon the input of the data, the website will calculate the carbon dioxide output that each pledge will save and the impact of that reduction in the equivalent number of trees planted.

The EcoWheels program was created in 2007 and has already helped Wheels’ clients save 250,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

“We are developing programs like the EcoWheels Green Driver Challenge in response to our clients’ desire to make real improvements to and reduce their impact on the environment,” said Frank. “Wheels’ ability to create strategies that drive measurable change for companies like SimplexGrinnell and the others already signed up for the event secures our leadership in the fleet management arena.”

It’s hard to imagine that it’s been 40 years since the first Earth Day, given the overall state of our environment. It seems we have a lot of work still to do. Everyone, fleets or not, can do their part, and many of the solutions are simple and can become part of our everyday lives. Things like turning off lights when they are not in use, using reusable bottles, and turning down the thermostat at night. The official Earth Day site even suggests attending local meetings to encourage officials to develop a green local economy.

There are many more options available. But for the trucking industry, the options, such as reducing idling and creating more fuel-efficient vehicles, are viable and make sense. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s this: No matter the industry or initiative, the quickest way to get action is to provide a financial incentive. Cutting fuel costs and reducing idling creates an immediate financial benefit for fleets. Considering how many trucks I see on the roads traveling faster than most cars, or parked idling in the lot of the local manufacturing plant down the street from my house, it’s apparent we have a lot of work still to do.

Earth Day is the day to start.

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