Comparing commercial driving in the US and the UK

Though the #StreamTeam is a relatively small, but close-knit group of software specialists based in the UK, the Stream subscriber community is an ever growing global one.

From the UK to the United States and from Ireland, mainland Europe to New Zealand, we have businesses managing their logistics operations, vehicle maintenance and fleet compliance.

A scalable, flexible, cloud-based application, Stream has been developed from the very start to operate across multiple regions.

Let’s look at two of those key regions in this series of blog posts looking at driving commercially: the US and the UK.

One of the first things you’ll notice is that everything is bigger.

Much bigger.

The vehicles are bigger

Weight classes for commercial vehicles are bigger. UK drivers must hold an HGV Licence to drive vehicles with a gross weight over 7.5 tonnes (7,500 kg or 16,534.7 lb).

Their compatriots in the  US only need a Commercial Drivers Licence (CDL) for vehicles with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more (11,794 kg or 11.794 tonnes).

Number of commercial vehicles is bigger

In pure numbers, it’s obvious that there will be more commercial vehicles in the US than in the UK, but the US also has more commercial vehicles per capita than the UK.

The US has approximately 12,474,722 commercial vehicles and a population of 323,400,000, making around one commercial vehicle for every 26 people in the US.

In the UK, there are around 473,900 commercial vehicles in the UK, and the population is 66,040,000 – that’s around one commercial vehicle for every 140 people.

And that’s not even mentioning the sheer size of the country

The US has more than 37 times the land area of the UK (9,147,593 km2 compared to 242,495 km2). Ten individual states are each bigger in land area than the whole of the UK:

    1. Alaska (1,477,953 km2)
    2. Texas (676,587 km2)
    3. California (403,466 km2)
    4. Montana (376,962 km2)
    5. New Mexico (314,161 km2)
    6. Arizona (294,207 km2)
    7. Nevada (284,332 km2)
    8. Colorado (268,431 km2)
    9. Wyoming (251,470 km2)
    10. Oregon (248,608 km2)

Tip-to-tip (or Land’s End to John O’Groats) you’ll need to travel a distance of 874 miles by road. 

The furthest distance across mainland conterminous US is usually listed as 2,892 miles by road, from Point Arena, California, to West Quoddy Head, Maine. You’d have to drive the length of the UK 3.3 times over to replicate the equivalent distance in the US.

Spanning the full 50 states making up the continental United States, drivers would have to cross six time-zones alone when travelling coast-to-coast!

The US road network totals around 4,183,707 miles – almost 17 times that of the UK, which has a total of around 246,700 miles of road across the country.