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  1. Default Toronto to LA in 4 days

    Hey guys, I've been prowling this forum for weeks and finally decided to make an account.

    Now, before I go any further, I just want to say that I have no concrete plans to make this trip, and it is only a future hypothetical at this point.

    Also, I just want to say that, while I am young, I do not believe in driving too long in one day, and I think that people that drive like 850 miles or, even worse 1,000 miles in one day(!) are completely reckless and foolish. In fact, me and my family have never gone over 600 miles in one day throughout my lifetime, and that only happened once, years ago; we usually aim for less than 500 miles, splitting it up over multiple days (however we can do 500-600 miles in one day of course) so the kind of reckless pushes that I see on these forums from time-to-time is frankly foreign to me.

    Anyway, what I am wondering is this: can a road trip like this – from Toronto to LA in 4 days in good summer weather – without stopping for sightseeing and only making necessary stops, be done safely? I know that the ideal length of time is 5 days; for example: Toronto, ON >> Hammond, IN >> Springfield, MO >> Amarillo, TX >> Holbrook, AZ >> Los Angeles, CA. But I have found out that one can theoretically do this trip in 4 even days; for example: Toronto, ON >> Lincoln, IL (666 miles) >> El Reno, OK (666 miles) >> Gallup, NM (650 miles) >> Los Angeles California (650 miles). I do understand that this is on the very precipice of what can be done safely, and cannot be done in any less time, but is even this idea (Toronto to LA in 4 days) too much? Even though this is only a hypothetical at this point, I may actually want to do this in the future. Highly interested to hear your opinion. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,052

    Default theoretical

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    When you say that you "found" that you could "theoretically" do this trip in 4 days, where did you find this theory?

    Put simply, you could not make this trip in 4 days without pushing the limits of safety. Do people do this trip in 4 days and arrive without any problems, I'm sure they do, but I'm also sure that fatigue has at least somewhat impaired their driving ability.

    As you mentioned yourself, there is only one time that your family has driven more than 600 miles in a day, and yet to complete your theoretical trip you'd have to drive more than 650 miles every single day, for four straight days. Think about that - that's a significant difference. Just look at your first day, Toronto to Lincoln at 670 miles would likely take at least 12 hours all by itself, but you'd have a border crossing and the significant chance of traffic delays around Chicago making that a day that could easily take 14 hours to complete. If that was all the driving you had to do, then you probably wouldn't have any issues, but you'd have to get back in the car again for another 12+ hours the next day, and the next day, and the day after that - and that's where the real danger builds.

    I will also put it this way, a professional driver would be required to make 4 overnight stops to complete this trip because of safety laws, which limit truckers to roughly 600 miles a day on the road, and if the professionals can't do it safely, then why do you think you could do -theoretically - what they can't do in the real world.

    So if you want to do this trip for real sometime in the future, I would strongly recommend planning to take at least 4.5 days.

  3. Default

    Thank you for your fast response.

    The way that I came up with this theory is that 666 miles would, at least theoretically, be the very, very upper maximum of what one could drive in one day.

    With respect to that, I want to make a disclaimer and say that I have asked this question with the assumption that I would be driving alone. If I may ask, would having at least one more driver to switch off be okay to make it in 4 days? If so, would only one more driver suffice or should I have at least 2 or 3 more drivers? I know, from browsing this forum, that driving 700+ miles even with 2 or more drivers is not good, but would it work for say 4 consecutive 650 mile drive days? I would also like to know if the quality and speed of the roadway makes a difference (i.e. interstate vs. 4-lane divided highway with at-grade intersections; 70 mph vs 75 mph vs 80 mph, etc.)

    I know you mentioned that 600 is the limit for professional drivers, so I would also like to know if 600 is truly the limit or if it can be pushed ever so slightly.

    In other words, what I am saying is this: what is the true upper maximum point? Before you flame me, I truly understand what you are saying in that 600 miles should be the limit. But I at least theoretically think that one, especially with multiple drivers, can make it slightly over 600.

    So even if 650-666 is not the true upper upper, limit, I am thinking that 625 could still work. Still making 4 overnight stops like you said, but pushing it to about 625 miles per day.

    For example: {taking the 55/44/40/15/10 route like I mentioned above} Toronto>>Bloomington, IL (625 miles)>>Stroud, OK (625 miles)>>that "Route 66" Casino hotel west of Albuquerque (625 miles)>>Ludlow, CA (600 miles) (I checked TripAdvisor and there is one motel there)>>Los Angeles (165 miles).

    Or would this even this be okay, at about 600 miles per day:

    Toronto>>Pontiac, IL (between Joliet and Bloomington) (595 miles)>>Jenks, OK (near Tulsa) (607 miles)>>Moriarty, NM (just east of Albuquerque) (609 miles)>>Needles, CA (567 miles)>>Los Angeles, CA (250 miles)

    I would like yours and anybody else's opinions on both of these routes.

    I just want to say the reason why I ask these questions is so I can be as precautious as possible while driving long-distances. As to the reason of why I chose this route, I chose this route because I not only may want to do it in real life in the future, but also to give myself a basic template as to what I can reasonably in minimum amount of time on a long-distance, high-speed road trip in general.

    I guess to wrap up this comment, what I am saying is that, if I was hypothetically driving, maybe with a friend or 2, and I reached Pontiac, IL, would it be safe to, after taking a break in Pontiac, decide to drive a little bit farther to Bloomington/Normal, or even Lincoln, or if should I just stop in Pontiac. Ultimately, I just want to be safe and cautious and not push myself too far.

    Thanks for the response,
    magicwand

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,348

    Default Reality

    I'm with Michael on this one. And I suspect that every other seasoned RoadTripper will be. You keep asking about the "true upper limit" on one's ability to cover miles. To put it bluntly, the "true upper limit" will be discovered only when you run off the road, or worse - head on into another car. The NTSB limits on professional drivers were set as the result of numerous real-world studies and accident reports. They weren't just made up. Those limits also count ANY time spent in the cab as 'driving' time, for a very simple and real reason: You cannot get any meaningful or restful sleep sitting up in a noisy, moving car. Not only that, but having a 'co-pilot' who is asleep robs the actual driver of resources he might need to continue driving safely including, but not limited to, the ability to play stimulating music, having someone to help navigate, and most importantly having someone keeping an eye on his driving to notice when he starts to weave from lane to lane because he is losing concentration.

    Again: The reality-determined upper limit for safe driving is a day is ten hours. That includes all short stops such as for food fuel and bathroom breaks. With those numbers in mind, you might average 55-60 mph over roads that have speed limits in the 65-70 mph range. That's where the 600 mile number comes from. But the real legal limit on professional drivers is in time. You are not better than professionals. Multiple drivers will not save each and every one of them from suffering the same enervating effects of being motionless for hour after hour.

    You might be able to drive nearly 700 miles a day for four days straight. but then again you might be able to 'win' at Russian Roulette with three chambers loaded.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,052

    Default what it comes down to

    If I may ask, would having at least one more driver to switch off be okay to make it in 4 days?
    I would also like to know if the quality and speed of the roadway makes a difference (i.e. interstate vs. 4-lane divided highway with at-grade intersections; 70 mph vs 75 mph vs 80 mph, etc.)
    The recommendations are already assuming you're driving on high-speed, interstate highways, making the bare minimum of stops. If you're on slower, 2 lane roads, driving through cities, making stops, etc then you need to reduce the number of miles.

    Having multiple drivers only minimally changes what you should drive. If you're all by yourself, it's probably wise to cut back on the limits. Keep in mind, for professionals, any time sitting in the passenger seat is considered exactly the same as time in the drivers seat, because sitting in the passenger seat is also fatiguing. Professionals have to be separated, in the sleeper cab, for the miles not to count against their daily limits.

    I just want to say the reason why I ask these questions is so I can be as precautious as possible while driving long-distances. I also want to know if 600 is truly the limit or if it can be pushed ever so slightly.
    The reason why I chose this route is because I not only may want to do it in real life in the future, but also to give myself a basic template as to what I can reasonably in minimum amount of time on a long-distance, high-speed road trip in general.
    What it comes down to is that you seem to be looking for ways to cut corners and see how far you can push the limits. That's really the meat of your questions.

    RTA generally recommends 550 miles a day as an upper limit of how far you should drive in a day. I noted that professional drivers are limited to roughly 600 miles a day by safety laws (I say roughly, because even there, the limits are actually governed by hours, not miles and in many situations like weather, traffic, or construction they have to stop well short of 600 miles). Those are guidelines, and they are guidelines that are well founded in science, but if you want someone to tell you that 600 miles a day is safe, but 610 or 601 miles a day is unsafe, then you are missing the point.

    Think of it like a rubber band. Once you stretch it to the maximum, it probably won't break right away but the more you pull, the more it starts to fray until it eventually snaps. If you drive 610 miles a day instead of 600, are you likely to have a problem, no not really, but in increases your chances of something happen. If you try to drive 650 miles a day, again, maybe you won't have a problem, but you're getting that much closer to the breaking point, fraying the rubber band, - and when that rubber band "snaps" it can and does have fatal consequences.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    162

    Default

    Hello!

    There's another important point here. From the nature of your questions, I'm assuming you're new to this sort of thing. If your point is to get from A to B as quickly as possible, you should buy a plane ticket and rent a car at your destination. If your point is to cross the country by road, you need to slow your roll. Seriously. There's so much to see between Toronto and LA! Why would you want to turn a journey that's so rife with amazing possibilities into an endurance contest? Adding one more day will make your journey safer. Adding more than that would make it possible to actually enjoy the trip, rather than merely surviving it. A cross country road trip is an opportunity to experience a bit of the world. Don't waste it, by fixating on some arbitrary number of miles per day.

    My two cents.

    Rick

  7. Default

    Thank you everybody for the responses. I fully understand where you are coming from and, I honestly didn't realize it's more about time than distance covered, so that is good to know AZBuck. In response to Michael, yes I was trying to see if I could cut corners by doing it in 4 days safely, and I think I've come to realize, even by my own calculations, that making the 666 mile drive from Toronto, ON to Lincoln, IL dealing with traffic, border wait times and and low speed limits (especially in Ontario) would make that drive unbearable, meaning that 4 days would not be possible for this kind of trip.

    So, I have revised my hypothetical plan, for if I do try to make this trip in the future I will firstly plan for someone to share driving with me and secondly plan for a bare minimum of 4 1/2-5 full days, which would look something like this:

    Toronto, ON>>Joliet, IL (525 miles)>>Joplin, MO (550 miles)>>Tucumcari, NM (595 miles)>>Williams, AZ (530 miles)>>Los Angeles, CA (435 miles)

    Or, if I do this even quicker, I may also want to try to get to Kingman, AZ (325 miles from Los Angeles) by doing this:


    Toronto, ON>>Joliet, IL (525 miles)>>Vinita, OK (595 miles)>>Santa Rosa, NM (605 miles miles)>>Kingman, AZ (585 miles)>>Los Angeles, CA (325 miles) but please tell me if this is too much.

    As for your comment, Rick, yes I would agree, but I simply just want to be prepared in case I need to do this trip, or a trip like this one in the future.

    Thank you,
    magicwand
    Last edited by magicwand; 10-16-2017 at 01:25 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,259

    Default

    I'd personally stretch it out to 5 full days. If you can make up some time without endangering yourself and others, you certainly could. My sister is moving from Hillsboro OR to Cadillac MI as we speak, and she is doing quite well in spite of towing a trailer. She is driving 12 hours a day and knocking out days in the mid-600's. She has the cruise control locked at 65.

    Day 1 - Hillsboro to Missoula MT - 565 miles
    Day 2 - Missoula to Sturgis SD - 690 miles
    Day 3 - Sturgis to Omaha NE (that's today) - 550 miles
    Day 4 - OFF DAY at friend's in Omaha
    Day 5 - Omaha to ??? (She wants to make it all the way to Cadillac - 725 miles - but is prepared to stop in Benton Harbor or Grand Rapids). She wants to get past Chicago before rush hour.

    How is she doing it? She is hitting the road at dawn, driving till dark. She goes to bed about 2 hours after getting to the hotel and gets up at 5am. She is not making reservations. She didn't get out of Hillsboro till 8am. She is experienced enough to know when it's time to quit, she has been driving for over 40 years.

    Just so you know, she is pushing it against my recommendation and is fully aware of why.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,537

    Default

    Toronto, ON>>Joliet, IL (525 miles)>>Vinita, OK (595 miles)>>Santa Rosa, NM (605 miles miles)>>Kingman, AZ (585 miles)>>Los Angeles, CA (325 miles) but please tell me if this is too much.
    This is more like it. Honestly, hubby and I have done 4 days back to back of 550-600 miles, but we are considerably experienced. We also try to schedule an off-the-road completely day in there after 3 days of that mileage.

    I am married to an ex-trucker, and he has taught me a lot of the rules that the NTSB puts on truckers. A trucker has to get out from behind the wheel after 10 hours, even if the traffic has only allowed them to go 200 miles. Then they have to go back in the berthing area and try to get some shut-eye, though you can't force your body to sleep sometimes. That white-and-yellow line is mesmerizing and exhausting, and if you are sitting in the passenger seat, you are still looking at those lines. One time, hubby was driving down I-90 in Montana and got stuck in a jam that lasted for 5 hours. He and his partner had to switch places while still stuck sitting on the highway going nowhere. The logbook (then a paper log) had to reflect that he got out of the driver seat and went to the back.


    Donna

  10. #10

    Default

    Honestly, it is more like a 6-day trip. And you never know which day you might need that extra few hours of sleep that would put a 4 to 5 day trip in jeopardy. I assume the plan is to drive back some number days after having reached Los Angeles. The accumulated driving takes a toll.

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