While most fleets mean the same thing when they refer to regional operations (some constraint on geographic operation to allow the driver to return home on some predictable basis), there’s not one true definition across the board when it comes to mileage.
In an effort to define what regional means, we can look to the people who have perhaps the most careful eye on fuel efficiency and mileage: the North American Council for Freight Efficiency. NACFE tracks freight efficiency efforts and studies new fuel-saving technologies.
In NACFE’s Run on Less Regional report in 2020, and again in 2022 in its Run on Less - Electric Regional report, NACFE defines the scope of regional as operations in which the truck stays within a 300-mile radius from a home base daily.
“This may include trucks that return to a home base every day or ones on a route for multiple days but that stay within that 300-mile radius,” NACFE wrote in the 2019 report.
When NACFE analyzed the regional haul market in 2022 to determine how heavy-duty electric vehicles could fit in, it further broke down the daily mileage range into segments:
- Short regional: 50 miles from depot
- Medium regional: 100 miles from depot
- Long regional: 100 to 300 miles from depot with return-to-base
“The term tends to encompass a range of interpretations,” NACFE wrote in its Run on Less – Electric Regional report. “A common element is getting the driver back home on a reliable basis.”
In contrast, the American Transportation Research Institute, in its annual cost of trucking survey, defines the operation mileage range in this way:
- local: less than 100 miles
- regional: 100-500 miles
- inter-regional: 500-1,000 miles
- national: over 1,000 miles.
The challenge of defining regional may come down to the fact that many fleets and drivers aren’t as concerned by the numbers on the odometer as they are about other factors.
For example, PGT Trucking, which specializes in flatbed regional haul in Pennsylvania, considers regional haul operations about 200 to 400 miles a day, and having drivers home on the weekend. If the range is 250-350 miles a day, but they are home daily, they define that as local.
“Depending on what they run, and in what part of the country, that doesn’t mean they can’t get home throughout the week as well. But typically, our regional drivers are home on the weekends,” explains PGT Trucking Director of Operations Tyler Damazo.
For Houston-based Clark Freight Lines, it’s similar. A 500-mile round trip is a typical regional run, says President and co-owner Danny Schnautz.
This article is part of a larger feature on regional haul trucking. Check out the story, "A Happy Medium: How Drivers Influence Regional Freight Movement" for more information.