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Pros and Cons of Truck Platooning

September 13, 2017

by Lauren Fletcher - Also by this author

The concept of truck platooning is coming over to the United States. With roots in Europe, modern truck platooning is the ability to electronically group trucks, or other vehicles, to travel down the road. Platooning can decrease the space between vehicles and can help increase overall road capacity.

Using vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, vehicles can communicate with each other such information as to when to increase or decrease speed or apply the brakes and do so automatically, without driver input.

With a history that can be stretched all the way back to the 1939 World’s Fair as the spark of an idea -- and several tries and partnerships later -- truck platooning is starting to gain traction in real-world applications.

While experts say the use of platooning on major roadways is at least five or 10 years off, progress is moving forward with the technology and legislation needed to make this possible. There are a few pros and cons fleet managers should be aware of when considering truck platooning, including: 

Pros

  • A possible increase in overall road capacity due to less space is taken up by platooning vehicles.
  • An improvement in traffic flow could be the result of increased road capacity.
  • Platooning trucks could experience an increase in fuel efficiency and resulting decrease in emissions due to more efficient driving.
  • Fleets could witness a possible decrease in driver fatigue and related crashes due to the ability for drivers to rest during the platoon.

Cons

  • There will be a limited availability for platooning opportunities until more companies adopt the technology needed. Initially, platooning will be limited to certain locations and highways.
  • Truck platooning is dependent on autonomous technology, which is still in what many would consider the testing phase and there are many unknowns related to what would happen during a crash or other incident.
  • Trucks must be fitted with the necessary technology, which will cost fleets money to retrofit onto the trucks or increase the price of trucks if they will come with the ability to platoon.
  • There are concerns about how longer platoons may impede traffic trying to exit a highway and what would happen should another vehicle try to wedge itself between vehicles in the platoon.
  • Fleets may not want to platoon with another company’s vehicles and it will take time to have agreements in place related to what companies a fleet will or will not platoon with.

Is your fleet considering the use of truck platooning in the future? What do you think about the possibility? If you have any pros or cons to share, e-mail me and let’s chat!

Lauren Fletcher
Executive Editor, Work Truck Magazine
[email protected]

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Author Bio

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Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor

Lauren Fletcher has been covering the fleet industry since 2006 and is currently the Executive Editor of Work Truck Magazine. Over the past 10 years, Fletcher has written and edited for Automotive Fleet, Fleet Financials, Government Fleet, Green Fleet, Vehicle Remarketing, and Business Driver magazines. A hot rod enthusiast from a young age, Fletcher has a fascination with cars and a love of trucks, from the classics to the new releases.

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