Since over-the-road (OTR) truckers are typically paid per mile, being able to travel efficiently is an essential skill to develop. There are many factors that can influence your ability to get the most miles as a trucker. Some of these are out of your control, but there are others that you can work to improve.
Here are some tips for getting more miles:
1. Safety First
Before we dive into other tips for getting more miles as a trucker, it’s important to remember that safety should always be your top priority on the road. It’s never worth putting yourself and others at risk for the sake of getting to your destination a little bit faster or fitting in a few more miles for the day.
In the long term, you’re more likely to build a strong reputation with your company and get assigned more favorable routes if you have a reputation for staying safe. This means that even if you may lose a few miles in the short term, you’ll benefit overall.
Safety considerations to keep in mind when trying to increase your miles:
- Maintain a safe speed at all times. Speeding is especially dangerous in large vehicles like semi-trucks.
- Driving while tired has similar effects to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you’re fatigued, taking a break to nap is the best way to recover. You may drive fewer miles in the short term, but you’ll be safer, and you’ll get energized more quickly to continue driving in the long term.
- This should go without saying, but never use illicit drugs to try to stay energized. This puts yourself and others at risk and you could lose your license.
2. Trip Plan
Trip planning is an essential skill for professional drivers to have. This involves scheduling your driving time to stay in line with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, as well as listing potential locations for stops.
Planning your trip can help increase your miles in various ways, including:
- Reduces time spent looking for a place to park
- Allows you to plan ahead for high-traffic locations (e.g. avoiding rush hour near cities)
- Helps you build a track record of on-time deliveries
3. Perform Thorough Pre-Trip Inspections
Pre-trip inspections are required by the FMCSA. They help ensure your truck is in good working condition before you hit the road, which is essential for safety. Additionally, they can help minimize downtime. If you catch an issue before it becomes serious, it can often be fixed more quickly than if you let it get worse. This means that being thorough during your inspections can help you improve your mileage over time.
4. Don’t Forget the Social Side of Trucking
Trucking is a solitary job in many ways since drivers typically spend most of their day alone in their vehicles. However, there is a significant social aspect to the job, and understanding this can help you be more successful.
One of the individuals you will communicate with most is your dispatcher, and building a positive relationship with this person can help you get more miles.
Some tips for working with your dispatcher:
- Keep them updated on any changes to your schedule.
- Be polite and courteous, even if you are frustrated.
- Work together to make deliveries on time, every time.
Other individuals you’ll interact with include dock personnel, customers at shippers or receivers, other truckers, and management at your trucking company. There may not always be a direct link between these interactions and your miles, but over time, your reputation can definitely make a difference in the routes you get.
Get Consistent Miles with DSW
At DSW, our goal is to help you get miles, get paid, and get home regularly. We offer competitive pay and work hard to provide consistent miles for our truckers.