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Why is one truck route better than another? Veteran drivers know that your route can make a huge difference in time and fuel, so taking the extra effort for research and planning makes sense. With today’s navigation and mapping apps, your research has gotten faster and easier than ever.

Studies by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the American Trucking Association, and other organizations report that a long-haul truck driver, someone who typically has trips over 1,000 miles, drives an average of more than 100,000 miles a year. Most of those miles reflect someone’s decision on prioritizing or preferring one road over another.

Sometimes route selection can be counter-intuitive; sometimes the shortest distance will take the longest time. It’s all about traffic congestion and road conditions. The Texas A&M University Transportation Institute reported that in 1982, Americans wasted an average of 18 hours and 4 gallons of gas per car, per year due to traffic. Today the numbers average out at 42 hours and 19 gallons and gas is a little more than twice price even with the 1982 dollars converted to the value of today’s dollars. The statistics are clearly many, times those figures for truck drivers!

Think about the country’s busiest interstate intersections and most densely populated areas. At the top of the list is the 2,000-mile I-95 corridor from congested Miami North through Richmond, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. With 1.2 million drivers a day, anything can happen to bring traffic to a standstill. Next is the 800-mile I-5 corridor in California, with about 935,000 vehicles a day.

Tracking Truck Costs 

While truckers are paid by the mile, not by the hour, strategic route choices take into account both distance and time. I was reading a blog recently by a driver who was hauling a load from eastern North Carolina to northern Pennsylvania and realized that he was going through Washington at rush hour, a grueling experience on any weekday.

He bypassed the Beltway – at the cost of adding 30 miles to the trip. He may have used an extra 30 miles worth of fuel, but he easily saved at least 30 minutes by choosing a route that strategically improved his trip.

As the blog writer added, “You can make more money, but you can’t make more time.” And then, sometimes you can do both. One way to make money and save time is to use a free load board to find your next loads and to find available trucks to cover your freight. Try the world’s largest free load board, to stay loaded!

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