Deadhead trucking is the act of driving an empty truck load at any point either from the point of origin or on the return trip. This does not matter if you are hauling a dry van with empty pallets or an empty flatbed trailer. Empty is empty. Being successful in the trucking industry means that you need to be able to knowledgeably manage many factors relating to each and every one of your loads. Many spend their time scouring the load boards trying to make sure they can book enough appropriate loads to avoid any deadhead mileage, also called empty miles, within their overall trips either the headhaul or the backhaul. These factors, while not limited to, can include, maintaining your equipment to keep it at an optimal performance level, appropriately accounting for fuel and maintenance costs, time management, limiting or avoiding deadhead miles and more. But that last one will be the focus of this particular article. Deadhead trucking. What is it and why should you avoid it? Here we will explore that and more.
By definition, deadhead trucking becomes a concern if a truck doesn’t have a trailer attached; it’s a deadhead truck. It means that the driver dropped off a load and is on their way to pick up another load. The concern is, though, that when driving without cargo, drivers can lose money, as they still have to pay for fuel in between destinations.
Since there is no paying load associated with the deadhead period, the cost of fuel and wear and tear associated with these trips do typically fall at the expense of the trucking company. While deadheading in short distances may not be the end of the world, and sometimes even unavoidable, too much deadhead time can prove destructive to a small trucking company.
One of the biggest truck driving tips you will receive in the industry is to avoid deadhead miles. The best way to avoid a trucking deadhead is to make sure you always have a load. Avoid driving without a load at all costs. It is also important that you do not miss your deadlines. When owner-operators or even a company driver misses deadlines there is a greater risk that they will miss a pickup and end up having to deadhead.
Driving with an empty trailer causes many concerns from all different perspectives. These concerns range from the additional emissions still being put into the atmosphere without actually hauling any goods from point a to point b, to the financial burden it brings to those holding truck driving jobs. No matter the opinion or your specific concern, the plain and simple underlying fact here is that deadhead miles can be extremely dangerous for truck drivers. Trucks with an empty trailer weigh half as much as full ones. This can be problematic if a trucker is driving through an area with especially high winds. Not only can an empty trailer sway around and be difficult to control, but it can also flip open, causing serious injury. Be sure to always check the weather reports and wind conditions before heading out to pick up a load with an empty trailer.
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