HHG-The Columbus Problem

I try to avoid going to Columbus, Oh from Green Bay, WI. Other owner operators and company drivers turn down loads to Columbus. Last week I had a load to Springfield, OH. The backhaul was from Columbus, OH to De Pere, WI.  De Pere abuts Green Bay’s south side. The load paid 503 miles as per HHG miles. While at the shipper I punched the consignees address into my TND/GPS. It read the distance as 584 miles. Now, do you understand the Columbus problem?

OK, I will try to explain HHG-household movers’ guide. It was originally developed to aid the defense department. They needed a standard of measure. Now it has over 140,000 post office to post office mileage measurements. It is a shortest point to point measurement for moving vans. It does not take practicality into account. For instance the measurement might take you up city surface streets if they are shorter than the expressway. They also may not account for a weight limited bridge if the limit does not limit a moving van. In my opinion it should be illegal to pay a driver or trucking company to take a route that would be illegal for that truck to move that load. Now, I can go back to the Columbus problem.

So, I began investigating and looked up directions on the Mapquest and the Rand McNally websites. They were within a mile of each other, but both were over 580 miles, and used the basic route of I 70 east to Indianapolis, the up I 65. The back of my atlas says that it is 569 miles from Green Bay to Columbus. The distance from Columbus to Fort Wayne is stated at 156 miles, then another 377 miles to Green Bay totaling 533 miles. So, I decided to run through Ft. Wayne.

The shipper estimated that the load weighed 44,000 pounds. He did not know for sure, great.  I needed some fuel and decided to weigh it at Sunbury, OH. Fueling it up would put me over 80,000 lbs. With my APU allowance, I would still be legal if I filled up. I decided to put in 75 gallons. I had 8 hours and 53 minutes left on my 14. My hope was to make it through Chicago. My next stop was dinner, and my 30 minute break in Gary, IN.  I made the decision to take I 294, instead of I90-I94-US41. I294 (tri state toll way) added 16 miles, but gave me the chance to make the Wisconsin line before my 14 hours was up.

I made it to Franksville, WI with 11 minutes left on my 14. I fueled up and did my post trip. Then I took my 10 hour break. On the way to the consignee, I stopped for a coffee exchange in Cleveland, WI.  The odometer read 571 miles. If I subtracted 20 miles for taking the longer, faster way around Chicago and the 4 stops it still comes to 551 miles on a 507 mile load. Then to add salt to the wound my next pick up was in Green Bay. It paid 5 miles. It ran in 17miles using the highway. If I ran through downtown Green Bay on city streets it would have been 12 miles. In fairness you can stand with one foot in Green Bay and the other in Green Bay. So supporters of HHG will tell you it evens out. You may have trouble finding a trucker to agree with that.

HHG and city to city payment is inaccurate and antiquated.  I have a 5 inch device that gives me accurate distance from address to address.  It costs about $300. Technology has mad HHG obsolete. It is time to make HHG go away. I know that I will be arguing with my company to update the way that it measures a mile. They tell me that there is a driver shortage out there. It is time to start demanding an updated more accurate payment. I hope market forces make HHG go away. If not, we should start demanding it from FMCSA and congress.

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Comment ()

Kurt-I get the line-because we have always done it that way. I think that it really comes from big shipping. It is hard for a trucking company to bid large volume work on any other mileage basis. If a company has always paid 503 miles for this route it is going to hard to convince them to pay 550 miles. Especially in a competitive world. Craig you make a great point that this is just one of the many dissatisfiers that drive people out of the industry.

September 28, 2013 5:21:41 AM

No one in America would work for a company whose time clock only had an hour hand, why do we put up with such nonsense in trucking?

September 26, 2013 17:01:44 PM

There is a good argument to be made that loads should be priced by how long they take to complete. But, for a major customer-most of the accounts are paid by a mileage standard. Many loads pay close to 100% of actual miles/hhg-Then you get a run like Green Bay-Columbus that pays less than 90%. It just is not accurate.

September 23, 2013 15:45:16 PM

Coffee exchange. I hadn't heard that before but I like it. When I was pulling flatbeds our loads paid by the load not the mile. The owner set his rate to pick up or deliver a load and that is what the shipper paid if his trucks were involved. We stayed busy other than the long wait times to load and unload at the lumber mills and treating plant.

Currently I don't even track miles except to pay my quarterly mileage tax. Our pay is based on a daily rate that I set, no matter how many miles are involved. If we work 6 hours or 12 hours the daily rate is the same so I set my rates based on a 12 hour day.

I completely agree that obsolete methods should be replaced with new more accurate methods. If there really is a driver shortage then getting the proper pay for a days work would go a long way to fixing the shortage.

September 23, 2013 13:52:11 PM

This is a problem that can and should be fixed with todays technology.

September 23, 2013 6:22:45 AM

We can be accurate every time-Why play "sometimes it works in our favor'?

September 22, 2013 20:16:57 PM

I find it really frustrating that we are dispatched on zip to zip miles and then given route miles from address to address... While this sometimes does work out in our favor as well as the companies often it does not. Someday and I still have my fingers crossed that this will be fixed.

September 22, 2013 11:40:45 AM

Great blog. It's time that this antiquated method of calculating mileage is pushed to the side as better methods are in place.

September 22, 2013 6:34:58 AM


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About Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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