Let's be real. We all know that the average truck driver runs ridiculous amounts of miles. But how long can a truck driver drive and how many miles can drivers drive?
Thanks to their hard work they keep the heart of the American economy beating.
Every item that you touch on a daily basis is in your hands' thanks to a truck driver. If you are not familiar with the industry you will hardly understand the sacrifice a trucker does every day. In this article, we will cover the enormous amounts of hours every trucker works, so you can have all the goods at your disposal every day.
So how many miles a truck driver can drive per day?
The main rule is that truckers can drive only 11 hours per day, according to the Hours of Service regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Most trucks are set to 65-70 miles per hour. When we do the math the amount comes to 605 to 650 average miles per day. Keep in mind that weather, traffic, police checkpoints, and the route the driver is running affect the driver's mileage.
A driver, under law, can work for a maximum of 14-hours per day. After that 10 consecutive hours is required to spend off work.
Keep in mind that there can be some unpredicted time consumers. Looking for a safe parking space, loading, and unloading, making dinner, eating, or shower time. These activities can reduce the overall sleep time to only 4-5 hours.
How can a truck driver drive safely and comply with regulations?
Department of Transportation workers are likely to question any mileage that is greater than 500 miles per day, as it is difficult to get these miles in while staying in compliance with the time requirements.
- The 11-hour rule - the driver needs to take a 10-hour sleeper break or rest period after being on the road for 11 consecutive hours.
- This rule states that the company driver must take a 10-hour sleeper break or off-duty rest period once 14 hours have elapsed on the clock. After the break is taken the 14-hour window is reset. The 14 hour can include not only driving, but also napping, receiving, eating, and other activities.
- 30-minute rule - Same as how a regular worker is treated, truck drivers also need to take 30 minutes to break after they have 8 hours of on-duty time. This rule helps the driver to have some rest time and to keep his mind fresh and more focused on the road.
- 70-hour rule - No driver is allowed to be on-duty for 14 hours per day continuously. That is why they can work for a maximum of 70 hours in any rolling 8-day period.
Is there a way that truck drivers can drive for more than 11 hours?
There can be different circumstances that can allow an OTR truck driver and Regional driver to drive for more than 11 hours:
- If there is a lot of traffic in the area and the driver needs to slow down, the law allows calculating what was lost and complete the remaining minutes/hours of driving and report it in the log.
- A truck accident can prevent the driver from completing his delivery on schedule. Maybe the truck needs to be towed. This will force the driver to move slower than normal speed. If the cargo that is being carried is perishable, it becomes even urgent to continue to journey in order to reduce losses for both parties.
- In case of really bad weather conditions, the trucker needs to lower his/her average speed. This can reduce the miles that they will cover. To make up for the lost time they are allowed to drive for over 11 hours.
But is there a weekly limit?
The FMCSA implemented a weekly rule for drivers that is called the 60/70-Hour duty limit. Depending on what start period the carrier specifies this limit can be based on a 7-day or 8-day period.
This rule implies that drivers cannot work for over 60 hours in a 7-day period or 70 hours in an 8-day period. It is specified that the trucker can only work for 60 hours for 7 consecutive days and 70 hours for 8 consecutive days.
Once you have your 60 or 70 hours completed, you need to take 34 consecutive hours off duty before you can drive again. This period when you are not on duty is called a 34-hour restart. This allows you to reset your duty period to zero, so you can start a new 7 or 8-day cycle. During this period you can work on non-driving tasks - loading and unloading freight, paperwork, etc.
This rule is not mandatory, but most companies are using it in order to prevent driver fatigue.
How long does a truck driver stay on the road?
This entirely depends on the truck driving job. An OTR driver can spend more than 300 days on duty. This is sometimes pretty difficult for them. It reduces their home time and it taxes their time they spend with their loved ones.
When it comes to the driving job that spends the most time at home a local truck driver is the winners. Most of them drive during the night and they get back home in the morning. A regional driver also enjoys a more frequent time home. They usually drive during the week and spend their weekends at home.
The main reason people choose OTR is that it pays more and offers an opportunity to see the country. But a trucker's life is one of solitude. If you are not a fan of loneliness, it may not be the best job for you.
Choosing the OTR position comes also with its benefits. This is the position that pays more and offers more opportunity to see the country.
What miles the average trucker drives in a week?
According to the U.S Department of Transportation the average American driver for 13,473 miles per year. When you break down the number it comes to around 1,000 miles per month or about 250 miles per week. Truck driver miles are a whole different story. On average they can cover 2500 per week! That is 10 times more than the average American driver.
If we check the statics we can see that men are driving more miles than women. We also can see that the average American truck driver is getting older. The reason for that is that a lot of younger drivers have a difficult time entering the trucking industry. This is due to the fact that a truck driver has a pretty hectic and busy life away from home, which is not so pleasing to the younger generations.
What penalties can the driver receive if he/she breaks the DOT rules?
If by any chance the driver doesn't comply with the DOT rules, there are some severe penalties:
- Revocation of driving privileges until a rest break is complete
- Fines at the state and federal levels
- Reduction in the carrier's safety rating
The trucking company can suffer even more severe penalties if it is found to have knowingly made the drivers break the federal regulations.
Overall the truck drivers drive a lot more than the average American. DOT rules may be strict about the hours a trucker can drive, but this helps to prevent them from driving when tired or otherwise unable to pay proper attention to the roadway, thus keeping everyone on the road safer.