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  1. Default New member question: How many miles possible in a day?

    Hey guys,

    I am in the early stages of planning a cross country road trip from Providence, RI to LA, CA. I love exploring via driving and am more focused on the driving itself then stopping at the parks and attractions on the route (I have been to most of them already). I am wondering what is the maximum amount of miles that can be completed in a single day, by a single driver. I am 19, have a car in excellent mechanical condition( 2007 Audi A4), and have driven 700+ miles in a day on multiple occasions, often for day trips to go skiing in VT/NH/ME. The route is slightly less than 3,000 miles, and I am wondering if this could be completed in 3 days.

    Thanks for the input,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Hi, welcome to RTA!

    On this forum, we recommend no more than what the commercial drivers are allowed to do by trucking laws: 10 hours, which roughly equates to 550 miles. For inexperienced drivers, we recommend less than that. You may have done 700+ miles a few times, but you are still young and therefore, somewhat inexperienced.

    As for your previous experience, driving 700+ miles for a "day trip", one time, is pushing it, but you only did it one day, right? To do that three or four days in a row, you will find yourself making unwise driving decisions due to exhaustion -- maybe exhaustion that you don't even feel yet. There's white-stripe syndrome and it can be like drunk driving as well. Maybe you "won" this contest when you did it once or twice, just a day at a time. You may not be so lucky to push doing that several days in a row. Would you really want to work for your employer for 16, 17, 18 hours a day, eat and sleep, then get up and try it again the next day, and the next day, and the next day? I love my job, but I definitely would not want to do that on a day-after-day basis.

    To answer your last comment, "I am wondering if this could be completed in 3 days": No. It is neither wise nor responsible. We don't condone it at all.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Absolutely Not!

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    This question comes up quite a bit, especially since the advent of totally unrealistic 'estimates' of driving times that come from computer-based programs that ignore the need to stop for food, fuel, and bathroom breaks, and also assume that you'll be able to drive at or above the speed limit for every minute you're behind the wheel, even through stop lights. Perhaps the best real-world determination of what's safe to drive in a day comes from the limits placed on professional long-haul drivers by the US Department of Transportation. While those limits are given in terms of hours, they translate into roughly 600 miles per day. Yes, one can drive farther than that, say 700 miles, on a given day but not day after day after day. And NEVER a thousand miles in a day if you expect to be able to do anything at all the next day. On a long haul such as the 3,000 mile drive you're contemplating, five days would be the absolute minimum to complete it safely. Six would be better. And please do not come back here and brag that you foolishly tried to do it in three, somehow managed to beat the Russian Roulette odds, and thus encourage others to engage in similar practices that put at risk the lives of every other motorist who has to share the roads with a sleep-deprived 'driver'.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-13-2018 at 06:22 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default An authoritive study.

    There was a study posted here some time ago, which equated the hours of sleep a driver had with the likelyhood of having an accident. Eight hours sleep was unlikely to cause that driver to have any affect, but the graph went up fairly sharply when even two or three hours of that was lost. Four hours was getting onto the almost certainty of something going wrong.

    Driving 1000 miles in a day would leave you less than 4 hours to sleep, when you factor in time for eating and getting ready for bed and getting ready the next day.

    Fatigue is the insiduous enemy of the long distance driver. You're not aware of it at first, but it is cumulative, affecting your driving and attention more on the second day, and much more on subsequent days, as the lack of sleep and rest accumulate.

    Best stick to what the experts have decided is the best distance for the safety of all who use the roads.


  5. Default

    Thanks for the replies everyone,

    To answer Donna’s question above, these 700 mile day trips include 6-7 hours of skiing and admitedly, a lot of coffee. The closest thing I have ever done to a long haul road trip was last summer to visit colleges. I drove from Providence to Cleveland, OH on day 1, Cleveland to Charlottesville, VA on day 2, and then Charlottesville to Providence on day 3. The purpose of this trip is to experience driving coast to coast, obviously without endangering anybody. Would it be possible/safe to cover 1,000 miles a day with 2 drivers?


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Would it be possible/safe to cover 1,000 miles a day with 2 drivers?
    NO. You would need a minimum of 3 drivers. Please read the following article:

  7. Default

    Personally speaking, I would plan to do maximum mileage of 500 per day but ideally no more than 350. I have done much more miles per day when on my own but with my wife now keeping me company, we try and stick to the 350. Gives you time to have some decent stops for food and fuel and perhaps see some attractions along the way.

    Most I have done in one day (on my own) is 1,069 from Laurinburg NC to Wisconsin Dells - never again.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default As We've Said

    Note that your experience with multiple long driving days are all about 550 miles, ranging from 450 on the low end to 630 on the high end. Roughly just what we've been recommending and nowhere near a thousand miles a day. And as others have said, having two drivers does NOT help all that much. You would both still need to get a solid eight hours of sleep a night (No, intermittent 'sleeping' in a moving car does not count as solid sleep.) as well as time during the daily drive to just get out of the car, take your eyes off the road, get a bit of fresh air and exercise, eat, etc., etc., etc.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default To be accurate -- It is possible, but extremely unwise

    Quote Originally Posted by Gregory99mar View Post
    Would it be possible/safe to cover 1,000 miles a day with 2 drivers?
    As alluded to above -- It would not be safe! One memorable trip I and a co-driver drove from Los Angeles to Washington, DC in three days. We made it, but it was dangerous and dumb. It took me another four days to recover from the sleep deprivation. There are car rallyes where two professional race drivers drive more than 1,000 miles in a day -- but you really, really have train for such events and even those races are on controlled roadways.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    There are plenty of myths surrounding long distance driving, one of the biggest ones has to be the idea that having 2 drivers allows you to drive a significantly greater distance. I mean I guess it sounds logical, if 1 person can safely drive 500 miles, then 2 people must be able to drive 1000 miles. However, that is not at all how the human body works. Sitting in a car even as a passenger is fatiguing, and taking a cat nap while in the passenger seat isn't even close to the kind of rest you actually need to recharge your body to be able to again safely operate a 2 ton machine at 70+ mph.

    Others have noted that the LAW for professionals limits them to about 600 miles in a day, it should also be noted that those same laws consider any minute spent in a passenger seat to be exactly the same as time in the drivers seat. Professional Team Drivers can rotate where they can drive much greater distances, but the ONLY way they can do it is if the second driver is in a sleeper cab, completely removed from the road - and certainly not something you can replicate in a personal car.

    Fatigue is real, it is every bit as dangerous and deadly as drunk driving, and yet because there is not a breath test for fatigue, many people don't take it seriously. Even worse, they think that "powering through," and driving 1,000+ miles in a day is some sign of strength, manliness, or being a good driver - and the reality couldn't be farther from the truth. All such drives prove is a selfishness and a willingness to put the drivers irresponsible goal ahead of the safety of everyone else on the road. To put things very simply, if you would never drive drunk and if you don't think it's cool to see how much you can drink and then "safely" get behind the wheel, then don't even think about trying to drive 1,000 miles in a day in a cross country trek - because realistically and statistically, there is no difference in the danger between the two.

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