This load started in Port Huron, Mi and then dropped in Green Bay, WI. After spending my 10 hour break at the consignee in St. Clair, Mi,  they unloaded me in about 30 minutes. It was a short drive along the Huron River to my shipper. When I arrived at the shipper, I had 10:42 drive time left. My 14 hour shift still had 13:10. My load consisted of 16 paper rolls (42,512 lbs.) and would take about 30 minutes to load. 

The night before, I researched my routing. As always, the first thing that I looked at was my Atlas. I also used my IPAD, as well as my truck navigational device (TND). Map quest pegged the shortest route at 512 miles. (Map Quest is a cool tool, but is not necesarily truck routing. Always double check.) It took me down through Detroit and Chicago. It also utilized the Chicago Skyway. That cuts off about a dozen miles, but at $29.40 is cost prohibitive and I seldom use it. So, I added the miles back in. As I waited on duty, I punched the numbers into my TND. The TND put the mileage at 548, exactly what I estimated it at, but it used a different route. It wanted to avoid Detroit and take my through Lansing. I was leaning towards going over the Mackinaw Bridge. 

Time is always a factor, especially when dealing with big cities. I try to avoid rush hour, but with lack of HOS flexibility that is not always possible. I would be getting to the Chicago area during rush hour. I considered taking a 2/8 split, but that might mean not getting home that night and sleeping in my truck instead of being home. I294 around Chicago costs $28.25 in tolls. Skipping the top toll save $9.05. The Mackinaw Bridge toll is $5 and axle or $25 for me.

Fuel was not a factor. My preload info said that the load would be about 43,000 pounds. Knowing this I fueled the night before in Dexter, MI. The hills between Flint and Mackinaw are not big enough to alter the routing. It would be good to see how my Detroit integrated power management system and GPS predcitive cruise control would do in those hills. With not much traffic, the system could do its thing. It did great. It handled the hills well while still averaging a shade over 9.0 MPG for the trip. Yup, it must be the driver.

As you may have guessed, I chose to go over the top. The extra 24 miles bothered me, but it bothered me less than another Chicago rush hour. My variable cost increase would be less than $10. Going over the top would be my best bet to make it home. While, I try not to let personal preference influence my decision, I was hoping that going over the top would be the logical choice. It is a beautiful drive. One that reminds you just how cool our job is.

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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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