Everything You Need to Know About Deadheading in Trucking

Saturday, Nov 5 2016 admin

CR England Truck DriverTaking a deadhead load is a lot like doing nothing. Technically you are driving a tractor and pulling a trailer, so theoretically you are doing something. However, that trailer is empty and therefore you are deadheading. Learn how deadheading affects truck drivers and ways to avoid this situation in the future.

Financial Burden of Deadheading

As noted when you deadhead you pull an empty trailer. Since you aren’t hauling anything you aren’t making any money for your trucking boss. This means you aren’t making much money either. A deadhead load can pay, but it’s a fraction of what you would make had you had a full load. For example, here are some trucking companies and trucking jobs that pay for deadheading along with their rates:

If you deadhead as an owner operator and you are working as an independent contractor for a trucking company, then as you can see there’s a possibility you could make a little money. However, deadheading as an OO on your own means you are doing nothing but burning diesel and wearing out your tires. As for most trucking companies, they are set up so that truckers aren’t going to deadhead when returning back home. Of course, even in company driver jobs deadheading does happen every now and again.

Dealing with Deadheading

There are several problems with pulling an empty trailer. On top of the money you are wasting on fuel and wear and tear on your rig, deadheading leads to a dangerous empty box trailer. Essentially this will help you on your fuel economy since you aren’t hauling 30,000 pounds. However, it also makes your rig more lightweight and more difficult to control. You are used to driving while hauling heavy loads, so an empty trailer can throw you for a loop. Make sure to consider the wind speed and weather conditions when driving empty so you are better able to recorrect your rig if you were to veer off of the road due to side winds knocking you around.

How to Avoid Deadheading

The best way to avoid deadheading as a trucker is to have a load set up for your return route before you first head out. By having something set up for you to pick up on your way back home you avoid the risk of deadheading. Another thing truckers need to think about is not missing their deadlines. Each delivery that you are late jeopardizes the next pickup and delivery deadline. As a result you might have a load ready to haul on down the road, but you are going to miss out on it because of your lax scheduling. So guess what happens? That’s right, you end up deadheading back home because you don’t have any other loads around you can take.

When Deadheading is Best

Sometimes there are situations where deadheading is the way to go. Sounds ironic, since there are so many problems with deadheading in the trucking business, but in certain instances this can actually help you. For example, if you need to get back home as soon as possible due to an emergency, forget finding a load back. Just deadhead it.

You will save a ton of time since you aren’t driving on a customer’s schedule. You aren’t forced to stop at certain hours, like you would be if you were hauling an oversized load. Also you don’t have to stop and check your load, or strap and tarp it like you would with a flatbed load, all of which takes a lot of time out of your driving day.

Speaking of the DOT when you are hauling a deadhead load you are still considered on duty because you are in a moving commercial vehicle. So make sure to do your logs accordingly indicating that you have an empty load.

So what is your opinion on deadheading? Is this something you loathe, or are you secretly a deadhead fan?

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