How Many Hours (Miles) Can You Drive In A Day?

An example of a truck driver log book in the U...

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Legally, we can drive up to 14 hours in a day. 

I know.  You have probably heard about an 11 hour rule.  It’s true.  You can only drive 11 hours, and then you are required to take a 10 hour break.  That’s only 21 hours though.  You still have 3 hours left in a day that you can drive.

It’s important to know this because there are still many companies that will treat you like you are not a “good” driver if you can only log 11 hours in a 24-hour period. 

Dispatchers are very aware of the rules, as well as the tricks to get the most out of a truck.  They will expect you to learn and use these tricks on “hot” loads as well.  If you don’t, then don’t expect to get the “hot” loads. 

As the trucking industry suffers from a driver shortage, a much higher percentage of loads get “hot” before they are dispatched.  This is largely because there aren’t enough trucks and drivers to carry all the available freight.  A company will book a load, hoping for the best, and then a driver will get sick, quit, or take time off.  The rest of us are stuck picking up the slack. 

It’s a bad cycle really.  The harder you push yourself, the more likely you are to get sick, burn out and quit, or really need some time off.  Which in turn makes it harder for someone else, and so on.

A few companies have realized that pushing drivers this hard is counter-productive.  It leads to higher expenses with accidents, and difficulty recruting and retaining drivers.  They will try to keep drivers on a more steady schedule.  You can work about 8-9 hours a day and neve run out of hours.  As companies become more aware of these numbers they have started recommending an 8 hour shift each day to their drivers. 

In spite of the recommendations, your load may be scheduled too tight to follow this suggestion.  You have the option of trying to reschedule the load or to run harder to make the original schedule.  Just showing up late is not an option in the trucking industry.  It only takes a few late loads to lose your job!