Last week I was at the Great America Truck Show in Dallas, TX.  I moderated a session at the Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference talking about how technology can influence driver behavior to achieve better fuel economy and safer operation.  The conclusion is that technology can be transformative and significantly improve operations.  Nussbaum Transportation outlined how they have improved fuel economy 25% in just over 3 years.  They are now achieving an average of 8.81 miles per gallon on their latest vehicles.  Earlier this year, at the Technology and Maintenance Council, Mesilla Valley Transportation outlined how they have achieved better than 9 miles per gallon.  It is now possible for drivers to get in excess of 10 miles per gallon—and it’s going to get even better.

As I always do, I like going through the Pride and Polish area of the truck shows to see what people have done to their trucks to make them eye catching.  I see lots of chrome, intriguing paint schemes, some beautiful graphics and lights that stand out.  It reminds me, that in the animal kingdom, it is the male that attracts attention with color and sound.  It’s the male that likes power, like a couple of bull moose fighting it out, head-to-head.  What I did not see was award winning fuel economy and safety.  Why are those awards non-existent or limited to the fleets?  Where is the award for 5 million accident free miles for an owner-operator?

How can we dress up a highly fuel efficient truck to be stylish, eye-catching, and adored.  Imagine what can be done with the new vinyl wraps on the blank canvas of a futuristic tractor/trailer combination.  In management, we say you get what you measure or what you reward.  Well, let’s do that.  We want safe and efficient trucks on the road.  Let’s reward that.  Let’s make a competition out of being more fuel efficient and safe, as well as good looking.  Let’s reward substance as well as style.  Imagine a SmartPhone app where drivers compete against each other for fuel on a specific route, normalized for their load.  It’s possible.