Situations are not always ideal. I had just had my best tank ever. 1856 miles and pumped 190 gallons. That averaged out to 9.768 MPG. The tank had 4 loads on it. None of them were really light. They were about 37.200 pounds, 30,000 pounds, 33,700 pounds and 43,800 pounds. The tank included about 195 deadhead miles. I used 4 different trailers on that tank. There were 3 live unloads and 1 live load. Every trailer that I got was relatively new, with good tires and an aero skirt. There were no loads where I had to drive fast to get there and I set the cruise at 60. I went faster when I had to get in the left lane to pass someone.

The next tank started out with the leftover miles from the 43,800 pound load and was at 9.0 when I picked up my next load. It was pre loaded at our yard in Green Bay. The load headed to Dundee, MI. It had a hard appointment at 09:00 central time. There was no overnight parking available. Parking on Sunday night had to be part of the trip planning. There would be available overnight parking about 15 miles south of the customer.

My heart sank a bit when I picked up the load. The trailer was a little older. It didn’t have skirts. The tires were fair. They were safe and legal, but were mildly flat spotted from someone dragging them. The load weighed 45,880 pounds. This was not exactly a load that was optimal for fuel mileage. That is where the “Do the best you can with what you have” philosophy came into play. This was not going to be a 10 MPG load no matter what I did.

Going from Green Bay to Chicago wasn’t too bad. The tank dropped from 9.0 to 8.7. For some reason Chicago traffic was horrible. Usually on Sunday it isn’t so bad. That day it was. My MPG dropped down to 7.9 by the time that I reached the Indiana line. I debated taking the IN tollway, but stuck with my usual US 20 routing across IN. The tank did rise to 8.0 by the time I arrived at the customer.

My next load was a scrap paper load in Lansing, going back to the Green Bay area. It was loaded on a newer trailer with skirts and good tires. By the time that I got back to Green Bay the tank was back up to a more respectable 8.7.

I can’t match Henry’s MPG numbers. I get that. His runs are longer, and his trailer is more aero. I pull company trailers. All of them are safe, but the tires and aerodynamics vary. Open deck operators can rarely match my numbers. The point is that you are always competing with people with like operations. To do well just do the best you can with what you have.


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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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