Trailer Side Skirts Benefit Trucking Companies
Trailer skirts are a sheet of metal that attaches to the side of the trailer, in front of the rear axles. They prevent air from collecting under the trailer and creating drag. The panels can be made of plastic or metal; both materials are effective at blocking the air. Metal, however, is easier to bend back into shape from the dings that happen on the road.
Designed to reduce drag and improve gas mileage, the skirts offer an unexpected benefit of reducing side winds, making the trailer more stable. This also has the happy effect of reducing driver fatigue, since the drivers are not fighting the truck as much.
The skirts are also shown to improve gas mileage. Proven records show up to a 7% increase in mileage. Some trucking companies report a 5% improvement, and are thrilled with the savings even 5% represents. This translates to a savings of about .3 miles per gallon.
Side skirts cost roughly $1,400 dollars per trailer. It takes an owner roughly 50,000 miles for the savings in gas to pay for the skirts. An owner operator can easily pay for these additions in a year or less.
Some states are so impressed by the results that they are mandating the use of side skirts on new trailers. The California Air Resources Board is mandating that new trailers must have side skirts and low rolling resistance tires installed at the factory. They have also mandated that, by 2013, any trailer coming into the state must use the side skirts and special tires.
It Adds Up
Some people would say that .3 miles per gallon isn’t enough of a savings to bother with. But every little change does make a difference. A truck that logs 50,000 miles at 5 miles to the gallon will cost the owner an incredible 10,000 gallons of gas. Adding trailer skirts to that same rig will lower the fuel consumption to 9,434 gallons. At $3.50 a gallon that saved fuel translates to a savings of $1982, more than enough to pay for the skirts and leave a little extra money in your pocket. Once the skirts are paid for, the fuel savings translates to more money in your pocket with every haul. A savings like this can make a big difference for an owner operator.
Trailer skirts are becoming increasingly popular with owners across the country. The fuel savings can pay for the trailer skirts in a matter of months. Being able to maintain steadier control in side winds is a benefit that the drivers enjoy. A change is happening in the trucking industry, and it is an exciting one.