All it takes is one look at the neon lights of the roadside truck plaza to suffer fuel sticker shock. Even with that silly “9” at the end of the price, the numbers on those big displays change faster than the symbols on a slot machine.

It’s rough enough fueling up the family car. But when you pull the rig up to the diesel pump and start watching the numbers pile up, it’s staggering. A full tank can run you or your company $500 on up. No doubt cutting fuel costs is good for everyone involved and Carter knows it is a challenge to make fuel efficiency a priority. That’s why we recognize fuel efficiency with quarterly cash bonuses as well as an award at the annual banquet to drivers with the best average miles per gallon in their truck class.

Here are a few items to consider that may help save fuel for the long haul:

• Drive at a steady speed – This one is a “no-brainer.” Pushing the accelerator down can make the fuel gauge needle move even faster.

• Eliminate starts and stops whenever possible- Keep an eye on the traffic lights. Since they are timed you can drive straight through them provided there are no delays in traffic.

• Route planning – Another more obvious choice. Driving during non-peak hours can lead to less congestion and help eliminate stop and go driving.

• Tire pressure – Keep your tires at their proper air pressure. For each pound under the prescribed pressure means lower fuel mileage, not to mention greater tire wear.

• Weather – Plan your route carefully around weather reports especially in the frozen north.

• Idling – Keep engine idling to a minimum. Experts report that every hour the engine idles a gallon of fuel is wasted. This is not only bad economic news, but it is even worse news for the environment.

• Air Conditioning – We all know that using the air conditioning is a drag on the fuel supply. Driving during the night or during the cooler morning and evening hours means less reliance on the air conditioner.

This list features just a few common sense ideas for conserving fuel. In part 2 we will discuss your truck’s design, accessories and set up that can help shave a few mpg’s off the bottom line.