Headwinds Blow (Actually They Suck)

March 18, 2016

If you're a company driver, do you care much about wind direction and speed? Easily overlooked but very important to lease operators and owner operators is the effect of wind on fuel consumption, which affects truck driver salary.

 

How significantly can a headwind affect your load profit? Much more than you think.

 

In a real world example, my 2010 Volvo truck was normally averaging 7.1 miles per gallon. On a blustery mid-March day, I was on an 800-mile trip from Dallas to Denver, the last leg of a three-leg trip.

 

Along the entire length of the trip, I encountered a steady northwest headwind of 25 miles per hour, decreasing my fuel consumption to 4.3 miles per gallon – a 40% increase in fuel consumption.

 

With no wind, my fuel cost (at $2.00 per gallon) would ordinarily have been $250. But this relentless headwind increased my cost to $372 – an extra $122 blew out of my pocket!

 

I had plenty of time remaining before my load was due to be delivered, but I had a serious case of get-home-itis. I could have waited for the winds to subside, which would have saved me that $122. But getting home early to spend more time with my wife was worth the extra cost. 

 

Before choosing a load, understand the prevailing wind speed and direction in your area of operations. I recommend getting this information from Intellicast Windcast . You can view current and bi-hourly forecast wind speeds and directions across the United States and even sort by region.

 

As I mentioned, it can help you save quite a bit of money to park and wait until headwinds have decreased before continuing to your destination, if you have the time to spare.

 

Again, this information should be part of your load decision-making (e.g., Should I take the load going east or north? How long can I afford to wait until the headwinds subside?).

 

In the Comments section, share a headwind situation and how it affected your average miles per gallon.

 

-May the wind be at your six and weigh stations closed.

 

 

 

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