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Manage Mileage and Expectations: First-Year Trucking Tips

As a first-year truck driver, you would think that as long as you know how to operate a truck, you can achieve the same mileage as veteran truck drivers. So why are they hitting around 3,000 miles week, while you are only hitting around 2,600? Experience plays a big part in how many miles you can do in a week. Here are a few factors that can affect your mileage and give you more reasonable expectations for your mileage goals.

Fighting for Parking

Common sense would tell you to park when you’re tired. During your first few weeks especially, you’ll be more inclined to park during your typical bedtime. The problem with this is that every other truck driver is already parked and settled in for their resting time. That leaves you driving extra time up to possibly an hour going from truck stop to entrance ramp to find a place to park for the night. To avoid this, park early. Veteran truck drivers already know which places across the country are more populated stops than others and at what times. This is where you are at a disadvantage. You don’t have the prior knowledge. While you’re still learning the stops and timing, your safest bet is to park early. If you stop to refuel and see a few other trucks already parked, go ahead and join them and get an early start feeling refreshed.

Avoid Traffic

Obviously, traffic will keep you from going more miles despite the long hours. While you can’t always avoid traffic from things like wrecks, you can plan your route around rush hours. Know which areas of your route are going to be busy and when. For instance, most cities will be busy from around 6 to 9 in the morning and anywhere from 3 to 6:30 in the afternoon/evening. If you can’t avoid hitting a big city during those time frames, park early and drive through the city when it’ll be at its least busy.

Load and Unload Early

If you can, get to your appointments early. You can either show up to unload early or call ahead and ask to reschedule your landing to an earlier time, assuming you know you can make it. This could potentially cut up to a day out of your journey. That means making more money in less time and making customers happier.

Rest Before Exhaustion

During your first few weeks of truck driving, you will probably be tempted to attempt more driving than your body is either used to or can handle. The more you exhaust yourself, the longer time your body is going to need to recuperate. The best way to avoid wearing yourself out is to take short naps as needed and park when you feel yourself getting tired. Driving tired is dangerous to both you and to other drivers. Driving for 24 hours straight is just as bad as driving drunk. Save lives simply by getting some sleep.

What Mileage Should You Expect?

While you’re still figuring out how these factors affect your driving, here are the typical mileage goals to expect from yourself:

  • First 6 months: 2400-2700 miles per week
  • 6 months to a year: 2600-2900 miles per week
  • 1 year: 3,000 miles or more per week

Don’t get discouraged by not reaching the same number of miles as a trucker who’s been driving for years. Experience really does make a difference and is the biggest factor in how far you can go. Your day will come.