Empty miles are miles accumulated while driving an empty container or trailer and not generating money. Tracking empty miles can assist shippers in assessing and optimizing a network in order to make changes, reduce empty miles, or locate backhaul opportunities. Empty miles are thus a waste of fuel, truck mileage, and time, and should be avoided at all costs by carriers and shippers.
Waste in freight implies that more fuel is wasted, more carbon is emitted, and drivers spend more time idle. Empty miles are the most common type of freight waste. One of the most prominent instances of waste in the freight sector comes when truckers drive empty, usually because there are no nearby loads accessible from load boards for the driver to pick up that are heading in the same direction as the driver. These miles are also known as empty runs, non-revenue miles, or deadhead miles in the road freight sector.
Carriers factor in their own expectations for empty miles when determining how much they charge for any particular load, so everyone pays the cost of empty miles in the end, from shippers to end users – including, of course, the environment.