Deadhead Miles

The Cost of Deadhead Miles

In trucking, loaded miles equal money. The more cargo you haul, the more money you make. But when you drive empty, even if it is just to pick up your next load, you are losing money. You want to avoid being a deadhead trucker driving deadhead miles.

What are Deadhead Miles?

These miles have nothing to do with fans of The Grateful Dead. Deadhead miles are when a trucker drives without any cargo, whether in route to pick up a load or having just dropped one off. Deadhead miles are an inevitability in trucking. The loads are not coming to you, so there are going to be unloaded miles in your journey. The strategy here is to plan well so that you travel very few miles with no cargo and therefore minimize the costs.

Costs of Driving Deadhead

Remember that you need to spend money to make money. Well, deadhead miles are when truckers do much of the spending. But deadhead miles can cost more than money. Here are the costs of driving deadhead:

  • Diesel fuel – If you are an owner-operator, or an independent contractor, you may not get reimbursed for the miles you spend driving without a load, or at best you will be reimbursed for a fraction of the diesel cost per mile. That’s because trucking companies are not required to pay for deadhead miles. So, that’s cash out of your pocket. If you are a company driver, however, you do typically get paid for deadhead miles.
  • Safety concerns – It is not safe to drive with an empty trailer. That fact might not immediately come to mind when thinking about driving your rig without a load. But empty trailers weigh half as much as full ones. When driving empty in a particularly high wind area, you run the risk of having your trailer sway and become difficult to control or, even worse, having it flip over. Both scenarios are dangerous. Always check weather and wind conditions before driving with an unloaded trailer.
  • Equipment wear and tear – This one is obvious. Any time you drive your rig, it endures the wear and tear of the road and the weather. If you drive empty, that means you have no income to offset the price of damage to your truck.
  • Time and efficiency – Time is money, right? Well, if you are driving deadhead you are spending time without collecting money. You want to avoid driving without a load as much as possible.

How to Avoid Deadhead Miles

The best way to avoid deadhead miles is to drive loaded with a money-making haul. This is when load boards come in handy, such as the our free load board, NextLOAD, a product of freight factoring leader Apex Capital. Load boards are great planning tools that help minimize deadhead miles. With NextLOAD, you can sort available loads by the estimated deadhead mileage, you can book a load to pick up on the way back from dropping one off, or even snag a tweener load (also known as tweener freight). Tweener loads, characterized by their short distances, can be perfect in-between cargo that lessen the deadhead sting.

Are you ready to find great loads – big and small, near and far – that help you minimize those deadhead miles? Become a NextLOAD user today and find premium loads for FREE using many search options including various filters. Create your account here or call us at 844-827-7700.

Mario Tarradell is a Bilingual Communications Specialist at Apex Capital and for NextLOAD. He comes to Apex after a long career writing for daily newspapers. Mario enjoys telling stories about truckers, especially about the many aspects of the trucking industry that have the greatest impact on them personally and professionally. Mario believes that truckers are our lifelines, so he always wants to pay respect to the hard-working folks behind the wheel.