FreightWaves Ratings cuts through the noise of freight technology product reviews to make you a smarter buyer

How many miles do truck drivers drive a day?

Truck drivers cover a lot of ground to deliver freight to customers. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that long-distance trucks log over 100,000 miles each year. 

Truck drivers drive roughly 140 billion miles every year. How do these high mileages translate for the individual truck driver? We’ll share some numbers on this topic down below.

Are There Regulations on Trucking Hours?

Truck drivers cannot travel as much as they desire. Regulations have protective limits in place to restrict movement and save drivers’ lives at the same time. 

  • 11-Hour Limit: 
    • Truck drivers cannot drive more than 11 hours after taking 10 hours off of work.
  • 14-Hour Limit: 
    • Truck drivers cannot drive more than 14 consecutive hours after being on duty, even with 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time beforehand.
  • 30-Minute Driving Break: 
    • After driving for 8 hours, drivers must take a 30-minute break if they haven’t already.
  • 60- To 70-Hour Limit: 
    • Truck drivers cannot travel for either more than 60 hours over a 7-day schedule or more than 70 hours over an 8-day schedule. The driver must take 34 consecutive hours away from work before restarting a 7-day or 8-day schedule. 

Why Is it Important To Have Driving Limits?

Driving can become mundane after a few hours. Truckers have more experience behind the wheel than your average driver, but even with their experience, the hours that truck drivers spend on the road can still affect truck drivers. 

Long hours and sleepless nights can drastically impact drivers’ energy levels and lower their reflexive abilities. Whether you drive for a living or not, everyone needs to sleep and take driving breaks to remain alert on the road. 

Truck driver regulations give drivers the necessary downtime that they need in order to prevent accidents and deaths on the road. Limitations also prevent fleet managers or shippers from pressuring drivers to work 24 hours straight, which puts their lives at risk.

When Can Truckers Drive for More Than 11 Hours?

Most truck drivers face an 11-hour limit on their driving. This limit increases safety and alertness on the road, but some truck drivers can ride for a few extra hours. The FMCSA has a few exceptions, such as adverse driving conditions and short-hauls. 

Drivers can drive two hours beyond their daily limit if they encounter adverse driving conditions on the road. Drivers can also travel for up to 14 hours per day under the short-haul exception if they are within a 150-mile radius from headquarters.

How Far Do Truckers Drive on Average in a Day?

A truck driver’s daily commute varies based on road conditions, traffic, and other factors. A driver who averages 65 miles per hour during an 11-hour shift can cover 715 miles per day. Plus, truck drivers can cover more ground when exceptions apply to them.

How Much Time Do Truckers Spend on the Road?

Truck drivers are on the road for roughly 300 days per year. After gaining some experience, some drivers look for local routes that keep them closer to home.

Why Is It Important to Know a Trucker’s Mileage Per Day?

A truck driver has to commute a set number of miles to reach their location. If a truck driver can average 700 miles per day, it would take them four days to travel to a location 2,800 miles away from headquarters. 

Logistics managers can use this knowledge to inform clients about package arrival dates. You can also calculate how long it will take for a truck driver to return to headquarters for the next load.

Things to Consider with Shipping Timelines

Truck drivers encounter various obstacles that impact their mileage and how long it takes for shipments to arrive. You should consider these factors with your shipping timelines.

Loading and Unloading 

Truck drivers deliver freight to several destinations and may make multiple stops before reaching a shipper. LTL drivers have truck storage for many customers, which can cause additional delays. Truck drivers will arrive at the facility and wait to get unloaded. 

Drivers will also have to wait for workers to load their trucks with the right cargo. Some truck drivers help with the loading and unloading to get on the road sooner, but delays in facilities can add up and cause shipping delays.

Empty Miles

Some trucks drive to a new destination without any cargo. Fleets do not make money from empty trucks and refer to this distance as empty miles. Trucks may have nothing inside when they return to the main facility. Trucks have to return to the main facility and then get loaded before the shipping timeline can begin.

Other Factors: Speed Limit, Weather, and Traffic 

Several other factors influence shipping timelines. Lanes with lower speed limits will reduce a truck driver’s total mileage. A 60 MPH speed limit nets 110 fewer miles than a 70 MPH speed limit in an 11-hour day. 

Bad weather and traffic will also reduce a driver’s speed, but the 11-hour time limit remains in effect with some exceptions. When truck drivers go slower, it takes longer for them to reach the final destination.

How Can Truckers Divide Up Their Time?

Dividing up your time can keep you alert on the road and maintain peak productivity. Truck drivers can use the following strategies to divide up their time.


An inspection checklist can save you time before and after trips and keep you safe on the road. You will have everything you need and have fewer delays.

Planning Out Your Routes

Rush hour and afternoon commutes increase congestion on the roads. You can plan your routes away from these busy hours. Many truck drivers do their mileage at night and use the rush hour for their 30-minute break. 

Schedule in Downtime

You need enough sleep to stay focused while behind the wheel. Scheduling this downtime will help with productivity, but more importantly, this planning can save your life. On most days, you can only drive for up to 11 hours. 

You will have to take at least one 30-minute break and it may have to help with either loading or unloading the vehicle. Calculate how much time these activities can take and then carve out enough time to sleep with your schedule in mind. 

Stay Safe During Those Miles

Truck drivers cover a lot of ground. They travel thousands of miles each week and they are vital for the supply chain. Scheduling your breaks and making sure you can sleep enough will help you stay safe while driving. Approaching your commute with a plan can help you get enough rest for the next day of work.

Sign up for a FreightWaves e-newsletter to stay informed of all news and trends impacting supply chain careers and operations.

Where the best truck drivers go to find jobs nationwide!