Destroying deadhead with freight tech

Deadhead trucking hurts your business and rig, but automated freight pooling and dispatch software helps carriers earn more money per mile.

Giulia Fabi
Jun 3, 2020 · 4 min read

How freight pooling and automated dispatch reduce deadhead miles for truck drivers

Deadhead is as bad as it sounds. Miles driven with nothing in the trailer, makes it more difficult to pay for gas, keep up maintenance, and grow your operation.

We’ve known about the problems caused by deadheads since the 1973 oil crisis when truckers saw significant rationing and faced the threat of violence. High gasoline prices were driving many truckers and companies broke, and every deadhead mile was especially harmful and painful. At that time, independent truckers hauled roughly 70% of the country’s freight, and not being able to afford to drive played a significant role in protests that shut down parts of the economy and changed how we look at truckers.

Thankfully today we have many solutions to cut down on the waste that businesses and drivers face. New freight dispatch and pooling technology has been proven to eliminate deadhead and provide wins for you and your customers.

Deadhead trucking creates harm and risk

According to a 2019 ARTI study, about 16.6% of all miles driven by trucks are deadhead miles. That’s a decrease from 20.7% in 2017, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Some reports also note that empty trucks generate at least 59 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year.

Deadhead trucking also is dangerous for drivers. Empty trailers are harder to control when driving through stormy areas. If your trailer is empty when you drive through high winds, rain, snow, or ice, you increase your risk of crashing by 2x. It’s a risk no driver should take. And with improvements in freight technology, more and more drivers can avoid the risk of deadhead.

Standard freight pooling offers some relief

The core solution to eliminating deadhead miles is freight pooling, on both ends of your drive. This service gives you multiple shipments along the same route. You’re able to pick up multiple loads — more likely to keep your truck full— and make more trips during your day. Standard freight pooling, however, doesn’t always ensure that you’ll get a load on the way back.

Traditional freight pooling is static. You get your orders and move your freight, hoping load boards last week were able to provide a good enough mix of opportunities that you’re only driving empty between some jobs. The slow bidding process and chance that something goes wrong — like the loading dock not being empty when you arrive — can throw a wrench in the entire day.

If you’re a long-haul driver, this can compound your problems when you have to wait and then run up against HOS rules. Your route becomes inefficient when your attempt to avoid rush-hour traffic doesn’t work anymore, but you’ve still got to move the loads you planned.

The modern answer is automation

The answer to managing freight, reducing deadhead miles, and avoiding significant delays that turn costly is automated dispatch. Mothership uses automation to efficiently help partner drivers get jobs near them that are already on their route. The Mothership routing technology automatically allocates 97% of shipments without the need for manual intervention. This allows for better planning and faster response times if changes must be made.

By planning your route with the software, Mothership helps partner drivers find pooling opportunities and return-trip freight in a single dashboard. Plus, if something comes available while you’re already on the road for the morning, we will send you a notification about the new load only if it fits your existing schedule. You’re also empowered to take the loads you want and set your own schedule, so you can have flexibility for family time, appointments, or just the ability to safely take a sick day when you need it. You get to be in control.

Mothership’s route optimization also makes it easier to reassign loads when delays occur. This keeps freight moving and customers satisfied.

It’s all about running a better business and having more enjoyable rides. We help truckers secure loads and minimize deadhead miles because it’s better for their wallets, rigs, and the environment, plus it allows customers to save time and money by increasing overall operational efficiency.

Schedule a demo with a Freight Specialist today to learn more about Mothership.

Official Mothership Blog

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