Many of you reading this blog have been following my progress in regard to a project called 70+/10. For those of you not familiar with this initiative, I will list out the objectives.
Project 70+/10 objectives
- Cruise at speeds up to 75 miles per hour where it’s safe, posted legal, and beneficial.
- Average over 10 miles per gallon of fuel.
- Basically have your cake and eat it too!
I realize that cruise speeds of 70 to 75 miles per hour (MPH) are not as fuel-efficient as it is when cruising at 55 to 65 MPH but there is more than one way to measure efficiency. Time is also something to be considered when measuring efficiency. What would you say to shaving off a full day of a run to be used either for additional revenue-generating time or simply for personal time for quality of life? On two of my typical routes, if I time out my departure time to minimize my exposure to traffic delays, it’s possible to free up a full 24 hours of time by simply operating at the speed limit where it’s safe and legal to do so.
The two routes in question cover much of the same territory with the first one being from Laredo, TX to Charlotte, NC (2,768 miles), and the second one going from Laredo, TX to Bridgeport, NJ (3,804 miles). Let’s go into how this mission is accomplished.
Details Details Details…
Laredo to Charlotte round trip: 2,768 miles in four days = 691 average miles per day
Depart Laredo before 10 am or after 4 pm in order to pass thru Houston TX before or after evening rush hour. Plan B is to stop and take a break for two hours in Brookshire, TX and wait out Houston Traffic. I don't like Plan B so let’s stick to Plan A which is to stop for my half-hour break at either the Hankamer, TX rest area, or the Stuckey's travel center just a few miles further East on I-10. The reason for choosing either of these two locations for my break is because their ease of entrances and exits back to the interstate highway reduces lost time. It's important to note that this route often comes down to mere minutes of being required to take an additional required ten-hour rest period so minutes can literally turn into hours.
Day 1 ends in Slidell, LA, Bay Saint Louis, MS, or if all goes right Gulfport, MS. 720 miles in 10.75 to 11 hours flat. It is not uncommon for me to have to maneuver into my parking spot using the yard moves portion of my logbook as I am off the highway in the travel center’s parking lot at this time.
Day 2 begins by timing out my journey past Atlanta, GA either before or after evening traffic congestion. All options are considered, including the 8/2 split logbook option, to minimize any delays Atlanta may cause to my trip. The preferred time is to make it past Atlanta before 3 pm. If passing through Atlanta after evening traffic the preferred time is 7 pm which is typically after the heavy traffic but before lane closures for highway construction projects. (Note that night lane closures typically occur around 9 pm.) The day ends by dropping the trailer into the dock, unhitching the truck from the trailer, and stepping into the sleeper for my ten hours of required rest. 662 miles in 10.75 hours to 11hrs.
Day 3 starts with a cup of coffee, breakfast, and a nice walk while I wait for my trailer to be reloaded. If all goes well departure is before 10 am which allows me to pass by Atlanta, GA before traffic congestion builds in the late afternoon. My required half-hour break is taken between Cusseta, MS, and if missing Montgomery, AL late afternoon is a priority, the break is taken in Hope Hull, AL. Once again these locations are chosen based on their ease of entrance or egress to the interstate. Day 3 ends if all goes well in Hammond, LA but typically finishes at the Louisiana Welcome Center in Slidell, LA as it uses every minute of available time to make it all the way to Hammond.
Day 4 starts by planning out the timing to pass thru Baton Rouge, LA, Houston, TX, and San Antonio, TX. Times for these cities are before 7 am or after 9:30 am for Baton Rouge, before 3 pm for Houston and after 6 pm for San Antonio. Day 4 ends by dropping trailer in the dock and bob-tailing three miles home. Typically ½ to ¾ of an hour to spare of my 11 hours of duty service for the day.
To make all of the above turn out as planned takes precise use of all of my time. In the last two years, there have been only a few times where I needed to abandon this four-day plan and go into the fifth day.
This is the story of a day where due to lack of traffic on our nation’s highways due to COVID-19 I was able to slow down and take it easy to record some stellar fuel economy. I started out my day cruising at a speed of 70 mph where it was posted legal and safe to do so. A little after my break and more than halfway through my day I noticed that there was plenty of time to finish my trip with a cruise speed of 63 mph so I slowed down and watched the mpg number roll up to 11.2 for the last 219 miles of the trip and 10.2 for the 590-mile day.
Just for fun lets figure out what the difference in cost would be for a truck averaging 9.5 mpg compared to a 10.5 mpg at a fuel cost of $1.759 per gallon.
- 2764 miles at 10.5 mpg with fuel at $1.759 per gallon = 263.238 gallons @ $1.759 = $463.035
- 2764 miles at 9.5 mpg with fuel at $1.759 per gallon = 290.947 gallons @ $1.759 = $511.776
- This is a difference of 48.741 gallons for a cost of $85.736
The cost changes a lot different if you are getting 5 MPG at higher speeds versus 6 MPG.
- 2764 miles at 5 mpg with fuel at $1.759 per gallon = 552.8 gallons @$1.759 = $972.375
- 2764 miles at 6 mpg with fuel at $1.759 per gallon = 460.666 gallons @$1.759 = $810.312
- The difference in this case with lower MPG figures is 92.134 gallons for a cost difference of $162.063.
The nice part of this particular day was I was able to relax the rest of my trip in leisure while watching my fuel mileage settle in the double-digit range. It was quite simply a day where I got to have my cake and eat it too. Oh GCVW for this trip was approx. 68,000lbs.