Deadhead Miles in Trucking

While we just hire trucking and logistics services, there are some important terms that we aren’t aware of. Although it matters the most to transport your goods safely, for that it is important to know all the ins and outs of trucking services. One such term that people aren’t much aware of is deadhead miles. 


What is Deadhead?

Deadhead in trucking relates to the situation when a truck driver would be driving with an empty trailer. Deadhead is quite a necessary aspect as the driver usually has to travel to some distance to pick up the load that has to be transported.


Does the Company Pay for Deadhead?

It is not necessary that all trucking companies pay for the deadhead. There can be some companies that end up paying the deadhead miles after the first 100 miles. But it’s not just about the money; there can be a lot of costs associated with driving deadhead. Some of these are mentioned below. 


Diesel Fuel

If you are an owner or operator of the trucking company or even an independent contractor, it is possible that you may not get reimbursed for the miles spent when the truck was being driven without any load. It is possible that you might get reimbursed for some fraction of diesel cost, but most of the expenses you have to carry on your own. 


Safety Concerns

If we think from the safety point of view, it is definitely not safe to travel while carrying an empty trailer. This is something that might not come to mind immediately. But the truth is that an empty trailer weighs almost half less than the loaded trailer. So, if the driver is driving the truck in a high wind area, there can be the risk of the trailer being swayed away, making it difficult for the driver to keep control of it. The situation can even get worse and the trailer might end up getting flipped over, affecting the truck and the driver as well. Any of these situations can be very dangerous. This makes it important to always check the wind and weather conditions before planning on driving an unloaded truck. 


Time and Efficiency

We always say that time is money. But if you are driving deadhead, then you are just spending time without collecting any money. This is the reason that driving without a load should be avoided as it is not profitable at all. 


Equipment Wear and Tear

Apart from the cost involved in diesel, there is also the cost involved in wear and tear. Whenever you are driving the truck without load, it has to ensure the wear and tear of the weather as well as of the road. While driving empty, you won’t be getting any income that would offset the price of these kinds of damages to the truck. 


How Deadhead Miles can be avoided

Despite the fact that deadhead miles are something that a trucking service cannot avoid at times, there can be a few helpful considerations for drivers when they consider choosing the load. While planning the loads, a driver should look for the kind of load that would have some return material. Having some material in the trailer would keep it heavy and will protect the truck against high winds. If the driver cannot return that load to the same broker, the need is to look for a new broker in the same area. But make sure you don’t end up extending the deadhead mile periods. 


Another way to avoid deadhead miles is to explore load boards. These are the convenient boards that help to connect carriers and shippers. The drivers can look for available loads on the route they are heading to. These load boards are highly effective for truck drivers to avoid costs related to deadheads.


For a custom choosing the trucking service, having an understanding of deadhead miles is important. They should know all the expenses that are included in the trucking service. They can even contribute to making sure that their goods are effectively shipped and the service does not have to suffer the cost of the deadhead. It is recommended to have a detailed conversation about this with the trucking service before signing up to get your goods shipped. 

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