Truck drivers are always concerned about the number of miles they are allowed to drive per day.
How Many Miles Can a Truck Driver Drive Per Day? The actual number of miles a truck driver can cover depends upon the various factors and ground realities varying from state to state. U.S. Department of Transportation has set maximum allowable driving hours of 11 a day followed by 10 hours of rest. The total permissible working hours per week are 60, followed by a weekend rest of 34 hours.
All over the country, truck drivers cover large distances and have a duty to pick up and deliver goods or services.
How Many Miles Can a Truck Driver Drive Per Day?
The federal government gives the truck driver time and mileage limits to follow during their service, known as hours of service (HOS).
Each city has its own rules about driving on highways or interstate areas. Therefore drivers should follow these service rules imposed by the federal government and the state authorities.
Truck driver working hours
There are hours of service rules by the transportation department to determine drivers’ suitable working hours.
First, 11-hour regulation in which drivers can drive for a maximum of 11 hours after taking 10 hours off duty or taking rest.
Second, a 14-hour rule, in this case, a truck driver can be on duty for a maximum of 14 hours after 10 hours of rest.
Amongst the 14 hours, the maximum driving period is 11 hours. If he takes rest for more than 10 hours, his maximum hours on duty will still be 14.
Third, the 30-minute rule includes a 30 minutes break after doing the 8-hour consecutive driving without rest. However, this rule is new and can be valid when you do your duty properly.
During poor weather conditions like snow, storms, or any other natural disasters, drivers can extend their on-duty hours from 14 to 16 and driving hours from 11 to 13.
Maximum distance per day
Maximum covered distance per day with a driving time of 11 hours per day can vary according to various factors and disturbances like weather, temperature, loading and unloading time, traffic, etc.
Top speed limits for various U.S. states can vary from 55-85 miles per hour. For a team truck driver, the maximum distance covers around 605-935 miles/day.
It is also the best and suitable option for you to avoid loneliness, fatigue and make complete collaboration. They can cover the distance of 1.5 times the per day range of solo drivers.
Maximum number of working days and distance per week
The maximum number of driving hours should not exceed 60 hours in 7 days or 70 hours in 8 days.
It also provides a long weekend for drivers to be off duty for at least 34 hours before starting their duty cycle.
In this way, the maximum coverable distance per week (7 days) can be 3300-5100 miles.
These figures can vary according to available assignments, loading/unloading time, rural/urban areas, and traffic flow in the area.
Number of days/hours/miles per month
With the driving limit of 60 hours for 7 days, a driver can drive for ~240 hours per month. The number of working days can be 24-25 days.
In this way, the maximum coverable distance per month can vary from 13200-20400 miles. The actual covered mileage will always be less than this figure due to various factors.
Factors that enable tuck drivers to drive efficiently for more hours
Efficient and safe driving is a requirement for trucking companies to gain customer’s confidence and timely delivery.
According to the transportation department, it depends on various factors directly linked with drivers’ proper driving hours.
Good Health and eyesight
Driving is a physically demanding job due to quick reflexes, long working hours, and survival in a hostile environment away from their homes.
To fulfill the driver’s requirements, you need to have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) issued by the transportation department.
To apply for CDL, you must undergo a thorough physical examination to check the blood pressure, cardiac issues, sleep-related disorders, eyesight, and hearing condition.
Moreover, you have to undergo a drug screening test to detect the use of illegal drugs banned by the government.
Balanced and Timely Diet
Due to long working hours in a still position and the same posture, driving will tire you, and you need to have an excellent meal to restore your energy.
Moreover, when the drivers remain out of home most of the time and have to eat from restaurants and hotels along the highways.
Therefore, food quality can be lower than you eat at home.
To ensure a balanced and timely diet to fulfill your food requirements, you should keep an instant or crockpot for self-cooking when you travel with a partner.
A sound sleep of 8 hours is a requirement by the department of transportation after 11 hours of continuous driving.
In a restless condition, the vision and reflexes of the driver can get slowed down. This situation can lead to poor driving or chances of accidents increase.
Therefore, trucking companies must ensure proper rest hours for drivers according to the government’s hours of service regulations.
Proper setting of driver’s seat and steering wheel
Long haul truck drivers have to sit for 10-15 hours in their seats performing driving operations.
Therefore, their sitting place should be comfortable, and the steering wheel should be in a recommended position to avoid any physical injury if the airbag comes out.
Recommended posture is your knees lower than hips and steering at a distance of 1 foot from your sternum.
Moreover, there should be a few inches of space between the back of the knees and the driving seat’s front.
The physical condition of the long-haul pick-up’s vital parts should be good to cover long distances to ensure timely delivery.
Trucking companies should inspect the braking systems, tires and air pressure, oil conditions, engine and availability of spare tires, and changing tools like jacks.
In case of any problem in the truck, it results in extra fatigue of the driver, delayed delivery, and a bad reputation for the company.
Loading of the truck according to the weight rating
It is the trucking company’s responsibility to ensure the loading of trucks within gross vehicle weight ratings.
Various issues can occur like bursting of the tire, malfunctioning of axles, malfunctioning of the braking system, or any other mechanical problems due to overloading.
It results in loss of control of vehicle and chances of occurrence of an accident.
Overloading is an illegal activity, and your insurance will not cover for loss in case of an accident due to this problem.
Therefore, train your drivers to avoid overloading to ensure safe driving, meeting the timelines, and customer satisfaction.
They can include the availability of comfortable mattresses in sleeping berth, a second driver to ensure proper working hours and rest time of the first one, and medical aid.
Moreover, vehicle stops should have a proper driver’s room for rest, having toilets, showers, laundry, and barbershops.
The reliable driver can make their decision and form a strategy on their own.
They know how, when, and where they can deliver, pick up and complete the promise correctly.
They understand that they can accomplish each employee and customer demand at the deadline.
Drawbacks of driving beyond approved working hours
Despite hours of service regulation by the U.S. Department of transportation, 57% of the truck drivers work beyond the approved working hours.
It is a result of low-paying rates that forces the drivers to work for more hours.
However, it results in an overall deterioration of road safety conditions and plenty of other problems.
Bad health of drivers due to fatigue
According to the various research surveys by the U.S. departments related to occupational safety and other sources, commercial truck drivers have about 1.5 times the working hours of other workers.
Due to increased working hours, a tense work environment, lack of physical activity, and economic pressure, long-haul truck drivers have an overall poor health index as compared to other workers.
Often drivers smoke to keep them awake and overcome the fatigue, but it increases the risk of respiratory issues, cancers, and heart diseases.
Due to low physical activity, truckers are more obese than other workers.
It is the root cause of other health-related problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol levels, and stroke.
Moreover, they spend most of their time behind the steering wheel.
Poor driving efficiency/increased accidents
Trucking companies often set unrealistic deadlines and have lower pay rates. It forces the drivers to reckless driving to meet the timelines and target points.
It compromises their safety and other road users, including other vehicles, passengers, pedestrians, etc.
Moreover, it is a reason for thousands of deaths and financial losses due to heavy vehicle accidents.
Moreover, continuous driving in bad weather also hinders the drivers’ visibility resulting in casualties.
Heavy fines by the government
If a truck driver does not follow the hours of service rules, he and his employer have to bear heavy fines.
Moreover, they can put a driver out of service for the time equal to his off-duty time that is due. In multiple violations, they also cancel his CDL.
Law enforcement officials check the electronic logging device (ELD) record of a driver on duty and off duty time statistics to ensure rules’ observation.
If a driver turns off ELD to hide his data, he will also be susceptible to receive a penalty or fine.
It is mandatory for the driver and the company to maintain the log record of the last 7 days.
Moreover, it can become part of CDL, resulting in the driver’s bad reputation, making it hard for him to find a job.
Furthermore, if a driver gets in an accident while violating hours of service rules, it can result in cancellation of license, fines, and end up in prison.
Monetary penalties can vary from a few hundred to several ten thousand dollars according to the severity of violation above regulatory limits, the state in which you get caught, and the inspecting official.
Stress on the vehicle and tires
Continuously driving the loaded vehicles puts stress on trucks’ critical parts, including tires, engine, and braking system due to high temperatures resulting from friction.
Therefore, taking breaks according to the HOS requirement will be a moment for the vehicle parts and engine to cool down.
Moreover, it allows the driver to inspect these parts for any problems visually.
Increase in pollution
More the time you drive a vehicle on the road, the more it will emit CO2 and other harmful gases to the environment.
Therefore, Running your pickup according to the rules will save the driver’s rest time, resulting in a cleaner and better environment.
Poor eyesight due to continuous driving at night
Driving at night is difficult to remain attentive and observe the road traffic due to two reasons.
The first reason is the natural circadian cycle of human beings to sleep at night, and the second is poor visibility during the night.
Therefore driving companies should stick with the driving period of 11 hours during daytime and rest period at night as per natural cycle.
Moreover, it becomes difficult for drivers to remain attentive after midnight. It forces them to smoke.
Other drivers, flashing bright headlights in the darkness, causing pupils to expand and frequently dilate due to frequent light fluctuations from bright to dark.
Therefore it causes eye strain and increases existing eyesight problems.
Therefore drivers at night should use anti-glare glasses or vision glasses according to the prescription to ensure any damage to their eyes.
Psychological issues like social anxiety, mental stress, and isolation
Low wages and payment by miles and not by hours forces drivers to violate the HOS rules and try to cheat on their logbooks.
Due to work for 14 hours and beyond it in isolation, they develop psychological issues like social anxiety, stress, and self-isolation.
Due to isolation and inaccessibility of good healthcare, stress due to unrealistic deadlines and delivery targets, and chronic sleep disorders due to extended working hours cause them to develop psychotic disorders.
It results in a shorter service period, increased burden on the healthcare system, and increased road accidents.
Voiding of Insurance
Insurance of vehicles and drivers does not cover the loss due to accidents resulting from poor driving because of excessive working hours.
Therefore, it is a substantial financial as well as human loss for drivers and trucking companies.
Consequently, they should ensure their vehicles and drivers’ safety by implementing the government’s regulations.
Increase the Distance Covered per Day by Driving with a Partner
Driving is a lonely job causing some psychological issues. Therefore you can travel with a partner to share your journey.
If your friend is a CDL licensed driver, he can also help you drive double the distance that you can travel alone.
It is an essential aspect from a safety point of view for female drivers to work with their boyfriends. It will be a source to increase their income and make their journey enjoyable and less stressful.
How to ensure proper working hours and good health of truck drivers?
Government and relevant organizations should take measures for drivers’ upbringing, their rights, and mental health.
With truckers’ increasing requirements, the following steps will urge the youngsters to seek CDL training and opt for it as a profession.
The government and driver’s association should force the large transportation companies to provide insurance for the drivers.
It will help their families and a sigh of relief if, unfortunately, they meet an accident.
Driver’s associations should work to increase wage rates for drivers.
It will help cope with the increasing accidents as a result of increased working hours and driver fatigue.
Furthermore, they should raise their voice for the paying rate per hour instead of per mile.
Organizations Working for the Rights of Drivers
The government should discuss with NGOs working for drivers’ welfare about their problems and try to resolve them.
Moreover, trucking companies that exploit the drivers should be blacklisted to facilitate the drivers as per service rules.
Trucking companies should give female truck drivers equal opportunities and take preventive measures to ensure their safety and protect them from harassment at the workplace and on-road.