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How do you define regional haul?

There are some common themes about regional haul but just as many disagreements about how fleets and drivers see regional haul.

In my blog post last week I talked about the need for the trucking industry and utilities to find a common language. I want to continue with the language theme in this blog post but shift the focus to definitions.

When you define something you make it distinct or clear, or at least that is how I interpret what has to say about the meaning of the word definition.

By now you probably have heard me talk about NACFE’s plans for Run on Less Regional, a fuel economy demonstration for trucks that typically run in regional haul applications.

When planning Run on Less Regional and while working on our report, More Regional Haul: An Opportunity for Trucking, we struggled with the best way to delineate what we meant by regional haul. It seems there is no standard definition among people in the trucking industry.

We knew that regional haul implied some constraint on geographic operation but it was harder to determine what that constraint actually was. In other words, there seemed to be a wide range in the total miles different people felt a truck could travel and still be considered to be regional in nature. And we also found that the term dedicated is intermixed often with regional, as in dedicated routes, or dedicated business to a particular shipper.

Oh, my, this can be so confusing.

Another thing that we were also sure about was that regional haul involved getting the driver home on some predictable basis. But there was no consensus on how often that was.  And does the load have only one stop or multiple ones?

Here is a sampling of some definitions of regional haul we found while working on the report:

  • Drivers are out five days and home the same two days every week
  • Drivers hit the open road while staying close enough to be home at least once a week or more often
  • Drivers remain in a specific area of the country and most routes offer weekly home time
  • A driver who travels a set route from city-to-city and typically returns home after each shift
  • Regional haul is short haul and drivers are usually home more often; drivers might be away for a night or two at the most

Clearly there are some common themes here but there are some disagreements about how fleets — and likely drivers — see regional haul.

For purposes of the report and for Run on Less Regional, we’ve chosen to define regional haul as operating within a 300-mile radius of home and getting the driver home in a predictable time frame each week.

However, I think the debate is healthy. The way we talk about something helps us understand it better, so I’m open to hearing from all of you about what you think the definition of regional haul should be. Maybe between all of us we can make it more clear and distinct.

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