This year, the Pride and Polish event is all virtual, and Overdrive Magazine is still taking entries for the 2021 photo competition. You can enter your photos by June 3 (no fees to enter!).
What is Overdrive?
Overdrive was launched in September 1961 by Mike Parkhurst. He was its vocal editor and publisher until its sale to its current owner, Randall Publishing Co. (now Randall-Reilly), in 1986.
During the 25 years he published Overdrive, Parkhurst championed the rights of owner operators to work freely amid a complex web of Teamster pressures and over-regulation.
Throughout its early history, Overdrive called for protests over fuel prices and anti-trucking legislation. Those conflicts, notably during the late 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, eventually led to deregulation in the early 1990s and today’s climate in which the self-employed contractor can operate with much greater independence.
Today’s trucking industry owes a lot to Overdrive!
What is Pride and Polish?
Pride and Polish events, produced by Overdrive Magazine, are the gold standard of truck shows. They provide an opportunity for camaraderie amongst drivers and their families in the trucking industry.
Pride and polish launched in 1990 at MATS in Louisville, KY. In 1999, Pride and Polish was added to GATS in Dallas, TX. Pride and Polish is open to company drivers and owner operators.
This year, due to the cancellation of in-person events, the GATS Pride and Polish show will be held virtually.
Coolant systems are notorious for causing leaks, because the coolant fluid travels to a lot of different places – the after-treatment system, the heating system, and the engine.
Coolant actually runs all the way to the back of your cab. There’s basically coolant from the nose to the end of the sleeper.
If it leaks anywhere, it’s all the same coolant system, so anywhere that has a leak in that system is going to cause you problems. Some areas are easier to get to while others can pose a challenge.
When you’re on the side of the road, the last thing you want to be dealing with is a coolant leak. Believe me – we get it. On-the-road service is overpriced and time-consuming, and while learning to fix it yourself can take a little practice, we’re here to help.
What Is the Function of a Truck’s Coolant System?
Your truck’s coolant system is a closed system that exists to keep the engine cool and running at optimum temperatures. It also keeps other components of your truck cool, mainly the after-treatment system. (That’s not technically part of your engine – it’s your exhaust, so to speak. The after-treatment “treats” the exhaust that’s leaving your engine.)
Coolant is also used to heat the interior of your cab. When you turn on your heater and hot air blows out, you can thank your coolant system.
Different Kinds of Coolant
There are at least 2 different kinds of coolant. They’re green and red, and they both smell about the same. They’re good for different temperature ranges.
In your car, you probably use green antifreeze. For our trucks, we only use the red coolant. Just about everyone now uses red coolant with semi trucks. We say this to let you know that when you’re looking for a coolant leak, it could potentially be green or red.
Note: It’s very important that you never mix red and green coolant! If your coolant reservoir has red coolant, do not add green coolant and vice versa.
How Coolant Is Sold
Coolant is sold as “pre-mixed” or as concentrate. There may be different levels of concentrate, but the one that we buy for our trucks is a 50/50 mix. For every gallon of the concentrate, you put in one gallon of water.
Tip: If you’re running low on coolant, and you’re just trying to get to a safe place, you don’t want to fill your reservoir with straight concentrate. You have to add water as well!
Preventing Coolant System Issues
Let’s say you don’t have any leaks, and there are no coolant system issues – you’d think you’re golden, right?
Well, not exactly.
Coolant breaks down over time, and it’s recommended you replace it just like you would oil in your car. The difference is that oil gets dirty, and coolant actually breaks down. That just means that coolant doesn’t have the same properties that it once did, rendering it less effective as time goes by.
You should definitely change your coolant at least once a year. Coolant is like oil – it breaks down and loses its alkaline level over time.
Staying Safe When Fixing a Coolant System Leak
As always, staying safe is the most important thing, so safety tips first!
Here are a few tips to make sure you don’t get hurt when addressing a coolant system leak:
Never open the system when it’s really hot. Wait until it cools down to a reading of 160 or 170 on the gauge.
When you open the cap, do it slowly. We recommend opening the cap a little bit, waiting to hear the air escape, and then opening it the rest of the way.
Wear eye protection. You really don’t want to get coolant in your eyes!
Take caution if the system is warm. Even if it’s not piping hot, it can be easy to get burnt. To be completely safe, you’ll want to leave your truck off for a while before attempting to go near the coolant system.
You should never put coolant in a container that had oil in it or vice versa. It could be late at night, and if you put oil in your coolant system… not good! Secondly, you can’t rinse out the jug enough to get all the fluid out. You do NOT want coolant in any part of your engine that’s supposed to have oil and vice versa.
How to Tell Your Coolant System Is Leaking
There are a few tried and true ways to confirm that your coolant system is the problem.
Many mechanics and drivers can tell right away by the smell of leaking coolant. It has a sweet, antifreeze scent that’s very potent and distinguishable.
If you can, consider actually smelling coolant so that if you ever do experience a leak, you’ll know right away where it’s coming from.
You can also look at your reservoir and see if your coolant is low.
You’ll also get a check engine light if the coolant system is overheating. The gauges will show you that things are running too hot. If the gauge is reading anywhere from 185-210+, you know there’s an issue, and you should pull over and stop the truck immediately.
If the truck keeps running, you’re risking damage to the engine or the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) cooler, which is a part of the after-treatment system, and it costs a few thousand dollars to fix. As a side note, Cummins engine are great (they’re the only engines we buy), but in our experience, one of their most common failure points is the EGR cooler.
At this point, we have a number of ways to confirm that we have a coolant leak:
Smell of coolant
Low coolant reservoir
Check engine light is on
Gauge reading over 185
Once you’ve confirmed that it’s most likely a coolant leak, you want to look around the vehicle while it’s not running to identify where it’s leaking.
If you’re not able to find a leak, sometimes the pressure from the truck running can create enough pressure to cause the leak. First check with the truck off, and if that’s not successful, turn the truck back on and look around for that pesky leak.
You can also look under the hood to see if something is happening physically. This will come in the form of a broken belt or fan.
The most common reason for a coolant leak is the weather. If the truck is cold, it’s common for the coolant to be low.
Additionally, truck parts get old, and many drivers and mechanics just aren’t replacing the parts fast enough.
When you do look under the hood, pay special attention to the hoses.
You’re looking for 2 potential things:
A swollen hose
A dry, cracked hose
If the hose is swollen in any way, it’s a sign that it’s failing or is going to fail. Additionally, the hose surface can become very dry or look cracked, which is a sign that it may be causing a leak.
Temporarily Fixing a Coolant System Leak
Let’s say you’re on the side of the interstate, or maybe you’re even 100 miles from home. Whatever the case may be, there are certain situations where you want to get to a safer place or make it home if you can.
In these situations, there is a temporary solution. However, this is NOT a long-term fix. This should only be done in order to help you get to a safe spot.
To temporarily fix a coolant system leak, you can get away with taping the problem area really thoroughly. It’ll slow the leak enough to where you can get somewhere safe. Please note that this is truly a temporary fix.
Some drivers will say, “It’s just a pinhole leak. I’ll tape it and be on my way!” Not the case. This should be used only in temporary situations.
Here’s why: the system is pressurized, so it’s not just going to drip slowly out of a small hole. It’s going to shoot out of that hole, because there’s pressure. For example, if you put a pinhole in your garden hose, it’s going to spray out of that hole because there’s pressure. So, a little pinhole is a bigger deal than it might seem.
To tape the hole temporarily, you can use duct tape, electrical tape, or a new product we’ve been using that’s a silicone tape. It’s pretty cool stuff – it looks similar to electrical tape but it’s a bit thinner. If you take it and wrap it around on itself and you stretch as you do it, it activates the tape. It ends up feeling like a piece of plastic. It’s the strangest thing, and it’s not very expensive. We bought 6 rolls for $20 or so.
Once you have the problem area taped really well, you need to address the lack of coolant in the reservoir.
Coolant is obviously the best thing for your truck, but with the lack of availability, you can put water into your coolant system in a pinch. It’s not good for the radiator long-term, because the water would be corrosive, but versus having no fluid and risking overheating, water is a much better option.
Let’s put it this way – if a driver said they were a few hundred miles away and they had a slow coolant leak, I’d recommend they add water to the coolant reservoir.
Tip: Always keep a few gallons of water or coolant in your truck!
Permanently Fixing a Coolant System Leak
Most of the time, it’s a hose that’s causing the leak. Permanently fixing the coolant system leak can be as simple as swapping out that hose.
The hard part, though, can be tracking down the hose you need.
Older trucks tend to have more universal hoses that are easier to find. Newer trucks often have custom hoses that are very specific, and they can be harder to find.
However, once you determine and purchase the hose you need for your truck, changing out the hose can be done pretty easily.
Get a screwdriver or a ratchet and socket to loosen the clamps on both sides of the hose. Remove the old hose and replace it with a new one. Finally, reinstall the clamps and coolant.
Once you’re comfortable with this process, you can change a hose on the side of the road.
What happens where there is air in the coolant system?
If the coolant keeps going low because of a leak, the entire coolant system can get aerated, which means there’s air trapped inside. This eventually ruins the pump and can cause overheating.
This can sound sort of confusing, so let’s take a brief moment to explain why air is such a problem inside your coolant system.
It all starts with the exhaust. The exhaust comes off the exhaust manifold, and it runs through what’s called an EGR cooler.
There are a bunch of “coils,” we’ll call them, that are in the EGR cooler, and the coolant runs around them. The exhaust goes through these coils, and the cools runs around them to cool the exhaust.
The coolant does a great job at cooling the exhaust down, but air? Air does a really bad job.
If there’s a lot of air in the coolant system, you’re not getting enough coolant through the EGR cooler. You’re getting partly air, partly coolant.
Things start getting hotter and hotter, and before long, the coils in the EGR cooler, which are soldered on at each end… well, they melt.
And when that melts, coolant starts leaking where it’s really not supposed to be.
Now you have this cooler that’s supposed to cool the exhaust, and instead of the coolant recirculating through the system, it’s leaking everywhere.
This causes two huge problems:
You’ll have a terrible coolant leak
It’ll ruin all those components of your after-treatment system, which are very expensive
You might also notice white smoke in this situation. No good!
If you’re on the road, there’s really only one thing you can do for a coolant system that has a lot of air in it.
Fill up the coolant reservoir with coolant fluid and leave the cap off. Let the engine run on the side of the road for a little bit and try to top it again with more fluid. Once you put the cap back on, run it again.
Ideally, you want to have a pressure test, but that’s not feasible to do on the side of the road.
We hope this helps if you have a coolant system issue while you’re on the side of the road!
If you’re interested in becoming a driver here at Freight X, let us know! We’d love to add you to our family of wonderfully dedicated drivers.
Running under your own authority might mean you have a higher income, but it also means you have more liability, more expenses, and more paperwork.
Just because you run under a trucking company’s authority doesn’t mean you lose all ability to choose when and where you run. It also doesn’t mean you give up the opportunity to make good money.
Here’s the honest truth about running under your own authority as an owner operator truck driver.
What Is Running Under Your Own Authority?
There are basically three ways to look at authorities:
You are entirely on your own – you truly run under your own authority. You’re responsible for everything, including billing, booking your own freight, paperwork, insurance, etc.
You run under your own authority beneath another trucking company. They take a smaller percentage of your load to cover billing and minimal support, but everything else is on you. You book your own loads.
You run under a trucking company’s authority, and they handle all the back-office tasks, including booking your loads.
If you’re considering being entirely on your own, we’re going to outline in this article what that actually means for you – is it really a good idea?
And if you’re considering running under your own authority beneath another trucking company, we’ll hit on that as well.
Freight X does not allow owner operators to run under their own authority beneath our company. All of our drivers run under our authority, which means they benefit from all of our back-office support, and we also book their loads.
Here’s why: if you got in a bad accident, we’d get pulled into the lawsuits anyway. They’d hit your line of coverage first, but they’d also come after us. That’s an incredible liability to us, so we avoid that by ensuring all of our drivers run under our authority.
Before you click off this article, it’s important to understand all of our drivers still choose when and where they run. That’s critical to understand! We’ll explain more later in this article, but we wanted to hit on the basics first.
Do You Really Make More Money?
If you want to run under your own authority, you basically want to be a trucking company. Sure, you’ll make 100% of your loads (minus a factoring fee or QuickPay fee, discussed later), but that doesn’t actually mean you’ll be making more money.
You’ll be a one-person show, which means you’re responsible for your own billing – you have to make sure you get paid for your loads.
You’ll need a factoring agreement, and the factoring company will most likely have you put down a bond. They’ll also want to hold cash reserves for you. In addition, factoring companies take up to 5%, and they won’t release funds to you until you have reached your reserve requirements.
Without a factoring agreement, you’d wait an average of 45 days to get paid.
So again, you will technically make more money, but a lot of drivers don’t realize what goes into the accounting side of things. When you run under a trucking company’s authority (such as Freight X), you’re paid every week – even when Freight X isn’t paid yet by the customer!
You don’t pay any percentage of your load to the factoring company, and you have great cash flow because you get settled every week.
Hidden Driver Expenses
The billing piece of running under your own authority is huge, but there are a lot of other hidden expenses drivers may not think about.
Subscriptions to DAT and Truckstop
Transportation Management Software ($$$!)
Dispatch and load planning services
Fueling location optimization based on routes
There are other perks you can get when you run under a trucking company’s authority, including:
More drop and hook opportunities
National recognition and reputation
Financial strength and excellent credit rating
Access to maintenance mechanics at a much lower rate
The economy of scale is what’s at play here – we have accounting staff, a safety department, and load planners with decades of experience. We can only do all of this financially because of how many trucks we run. We couldn’t do all of that if we only ran one truck.
Time Is Money
If you’re a solo driver running under your own authority, you have to consider that time is money. Are you going to set time aside to do all of your own paperwork and support your business? That time is going to take away from being on the road.
When you’re booking your own freight, accessing load boards costs you money, let alone sitting there and figuring out which loads you want to take.
Time is money, and you want to spend all of your working time on the road, spinning those wheels.
Insurance and Fuel
Insurance costs and fuel are your two largest expenses, whether you’re a trucking company like us or an owner operator.
Bulk Insurance Rates
Because of how many trucks we run, we can essentially buy insurance in “bulk.” Without a shadow of a doubt, our insurance rates are a lot better than you can get as an individual.
We also have a deductible buydown program for owner operators, so if you’re involved in an accident, your maximum out-of-pocket across all lines of coverage is $1,000. That buydown program costs $17 per week, and instead of exposing you to around $25,000 worth of deductibles, you’re only exposed to $1,000.
When you run under your own authority, an accident could put you out of business. You have personal liability, damage to the trailer, potential damage to the cargo – you basically hit three or four lines of coverage, and your deductibles will be $5,000 here, $10,000 there… you could be out $20,000-$30,000 from a single accident.
Most owner operators couldn’t withstand writing a check for $30,000. They’d be out of business.
When you run under a trucking company’s authority – especially one like us with a deductible buydown program – you don’t have to worry about losing your business because of an accident.
Our company saves tens of thousands of dollars every month because of our fuel discount. We don’t pay the fuel price you see on the sign – we have a negotiated fuel discount with Pilot/Flying J.
If you’re an owner operator and run approximately 100,000 miles per year, you’d enjoy roughly $12,000 in fuel savings per year with Freight X.
You can’t negotiate discounts like that if you’re running under your own authority.
Picking Your Own Loads
Picking your own loads seems to be a huge selling point for owner operators. They want to run under their own authority for the simple fact that they can decide where to run.
To put things simply, if you work for a company that allows you to book your own loads, I can almost guarantee you they have been freight guarded in the past, and you won’t have the opportunity to book with all the brokers out there. You’ll lose the chance to work with a lot of organizations because of that.
That’s precisely why we don’t allow drivers to choose their own loads. If you change your mind and decide you don’t want to pick up a load, it ruins our reputation. If we book the load and something unforeseen happens, we probably have the ability to get the load with another truck.
If you get several freight guards, brokers won’t book freight with you anymore.
However, all of our drivers get a say in the loads they want. You can explain to our dispatch and load planning team what states you like and what runs you prefer, and we’ll accommodate that. We aren’t like other companies that tell you the freight you run, and that’s it.
We are very accommodating to our drivers and will do everything we can to make sure you’re making money by taking the loads you want to take.
$4/Mile Isn’t Actually a Good Load!
Many drivers who don’t run freight day-in and day-out get excited when they see a $4 per mile load. They book it and realize after the fact why the load paid so much – there are no backhauls! You may have to accept a load for 85 cents just to get out of that area. Even worse, you may have to deadhead 400 miles to get a decent paying load back home.
Our experienced load planning team takes all of that into consideration. We know what areas are hot, and we don’t get suckered into booking high-paying loads that are really dead ends.
Customer Freight Is Stable
Finally, we have tons of customer fright. If you pick your own loads, you’re choosing from broker freight. Sure, right this moment, broker freight is hot. When it turns down, though, customer freight won’t.
Our customer freight is stable. It takes out the market swings and gives our drivers a sense of reliability.
When you run under your own authority, you forfeit protection, fuel discounts, fantastic insurance rates, and a weekly paycheck.
It’s tough to make money with only one truck. If it breaks down, it could be down for 2-3 weeks. How will you pay your mortgage? A blown tire could cause your profit to flip for the entire week.
Freight X can withstand that because we have 80-100 trucks. Before you get excited about big money associated with running under your own authority, it’s essential to understand the truth: it’s not all people make it out to be.
If you’re interested in being an owner operator at Freight X, be sure to get in touch. We’d also be happy to answer any questions you might have about running under your own authority.
After many, many years of being in the trucking industry, I dare say I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen loyal drivers that go above and beyond to provide for their families and support other drivers. But I’ve also seen drivers make catastrophic mistakes without realizing the consequences.
Here at Freight X, we have some of the most desirable lanes in the industry – numerous drop-and-hook customers out of Florida, lanes that have you home every night, and over-the-road opportunities throughout the southeast with very competitive pay options. Plus, when you call us, we know you by name – not a number. Why in the world would you give that up?
While we have some of the most loyal, hard-working, smart guys and gals working here, there are always a few that seem to give truckers a bad name. And they ruin their career – and life – in the process.
From lying on the application to refusing a drug test, here are 12 things truck drivers can do to ruin their driving careers.
1. Lying On Your Application
This is by far the most common stupid thing drivers do. We will find out what you did at your last job and why you got fired if you did get fired.
If you have an accident, speeding violations… we will find out! And if that’s not on your application, we’re not going to hire you. There’s so much documentation available, and drivers will continue to lie even when we show them the DOT documents… it’s just a waste of your time to lie.
Just be honest! We give drivers the benefit of the doubt, but when you begin the relationship by lying, we will never trust you and thus, we can’t hire you.
2. Drinking and Driving
This one is pretty obvious – when you’re caught drinking and driving, you lose your license and your driving job. In fact, it’ll be at least over a year before anyone will consider hiring you again. And the desirable trucking companies may never hire you again with that kind of infringement on your record.
States have different regulations, but many states lower the drinking limit if you have a CDL. For example, it goes from .08 to .04 – professional drivers are held to a higher standard, even if you’re not driving a commercial vehicle (FMCSA).
Consider this: after three hours of drinking, a 200-pound male would measure a 0.05% BAC after just four 12-ounce beers. I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty easy to drink four beers in three hours!
So while drinking and driving is an obvious mistake, some drivers don’t realize that having a few beers at dinner and driving home can ruin their entire driving career.
3. Doing Recreational Drugs and Refusing Drug Tests
It’s true that many states including Illinois, Michigan, and the entire western seaboard have legalized medicinal and recreational use of marijuana.
However, even though many states have legalized marijuana, it’s still not legal with the federal Department of Transportation (DOT).
Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), a person is not physically qualified to drive a CMV if he or she uses any Schedule I controlled substance such as marijuana. You can’t possess it in your truck, and you certainly can’t be under the influence. In fact, you can’t do it period – even while you’re off-duty.
Being high or having marijuana in your vehicle while driving a CMV is a DOT violation.
Truck drivers are in a safety-sensitive role – being fully present with quick reflexes is so important, especially when you’re driving a vehicle that can end someone’s life if it’s done improperly.
Unfortunately, this does happen, and don’t think you’re smart enough to get away with it. It will catch up with you, whether it’s from a dock worker who smells it and reports you or a random drug test. And when that happens, you’ve ruined your driving career.
Refusing a Drug Test
Additionally, refusing a drug test is the same as testing positive. And now, with the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, everyone will know if you refused a drug test.
We can’t stress this enough – you won’t be able to get a good driving job if you’ve refused a drug test.
Your only option is to meet with a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) who will do a face-to-face assessment, recommend a plan of treatment or education, send a report to your employer about it, monitor your progress as you do the plan, and do a final evaluation.
It’s a long – not to mention expensive – process, and even when you do it, you’ll never get a high-quality trucking job again.
And here’s where a lot of drivers ruin their careers without even realizing it – if we schedule you for a pre-employment drug test and you don’t show, many companies consider that a failed test. As you know, a no-show is the same as testing positive.
If you’re not interested in working somewhere, don’t accept a drug test and then not show up!
4. Getting In a Fight
Again, it feels like some of the things on this list are so obvious, but they’ve all happened far too many times.
Thankfully, the majority of our drivers are professionals and take the job extremely seriously. But there are always a select few, particularly at large trucking companies that accept newer drivers, that ruin the good name of drivers across the country.
As a truck driver, you’re a company’s representative in front of the customer. Getting agitated, being annoying, being mean, acting rudely to the dock workers, and getting in a fight all reflect badly on the company you work for.
Any of these, particularly getting in a physical fight, will cost you your job, and you probably won’t get any future trucking jobs with that on your DAC report.
Remember that the information on your DAC could be the difference between landing an incredible driving job that brings in six figures and never operating a CMV again.
5. Leaving on Bad Terms
Speaking of your DAC report, you never want to leave a trucking company on bad terms. If you have to part ways, do it respectfully and with dignity.
Trucking companies document when they terminate someone on your DAC report, and they put the reason they terminated you.
If you had a disagreement with your employer – and you might even be right – bring that truck back in working order, and don’t vandalize it! If you do, believe me – that will go on your DAC report.
Always try to end on good terms, even if you have to bite your tongue. Always have your future in mind. If you have a family, think of them – don’t let your pride or anger ruin the rest of your driving career just to get back at a trucking company!
6. Being Late, Oversleeping
Time management is a part of the job. If you accept a load, it’s your responsibility to be on time.
If there will be any kind of delay, you must contact dispatch and inform them.
We understand that life happens, and we’ve all overslept! But the worst thing you can do is not communicate with anyone and set the company up to fail.
Informing the customer that we’ll be late as soon as we know is the best way to maintain a great relationship. Of course, being on time every time is what we shoot for, but when the inevitable happens – you can’t stop highway accidents from happening! – having excellent communication sets us apart.
When you’re late, you’re failing on one of the most important parts of the job, and that will make you a less desirable driver to any trucking company out there.
7. Abusing Equipment
Take care of the equipment! Treat all equipment as if it’s your own.
Think of your truck as your office. Keeping your truck neat and tidy is not just a reflection on you, but it’s an FMCSA regulation not to have “things” which could become projectiles in an accident.
Failing to take care of your equipment will leave you out of a job, and it’s unlikely high-quality trucking companies will hire you with that kind of commentary on your DAC report.
8. Job Hopping
One of the worst things a hiring or safety manager can see is the constant moving from job to job.
We all know that sometimes, core values are not compatible between a company and an employee, but a driver should not set a pattern of moving from one job to another.
There are onboarding costs involved with hiring a driver, and a company is not likely to invest their time and resources into you if you have a job hopper track record.
9. Having a Poor Reason For Leaving
We all know that getting paid one’s worth is essential. However, that doesn’t mean you should badmouth your previous boss or state that money was a deciding factor for you.
Be professional in stating why you left. A more appropriate statement could be, “There was no room for advancement,” or “I needed to relocate.”
When the first concern out of your mouth is money, it’s not a great start to the business relationship. These types of drivers have a pattern of borrowing money, complaining about their work, and quitting.
Drivers that are professional and respectful set themselves up for success and earn the highest-paying loads, the newest trucks, and room for advancement within the company. Loyalty goes a long way in this business, and the drivers that have been with us the longest and conduct themselves in a professional, respectful manner are treated accordingly.
10. Failing to Report Accidents
Just because an accident isn’t your fault doesn’t mean you can keep it to yourself. Drivers are mandated to report accidents to their employers and to the state in which their license was issued.
We once had a driver that got into an accident with our truck two blocks from the terminal. The officer told him it wasn’t his fault, so he thought he didn’t have to tell us. The side of our truck was all scratched up, and we found out on an inspection notification.
It turns out the other people tried to sue us, even though the police report said it wasn’t our fault. You can imagine how that kind of news is a shock to the employer – we will defend our drivers any day, but when you keep an accident from us, you will lose your job.
That driver could’ve kept his job, but by lying, he ruined his driving career and now has to find a trucking company that will accept him despite this information on his DAC report.
11. Roadside Inspections
If you get roadside inspections, they will look at anything from your logs to the equipment itself. Do proper pre and post-trip inspections to make sure you’re not in violation of any safety regulations.
Violations go on your record as well as the company’s record, and if you have too many violations on your license, trucking companies won’t hire you (including Freight X).
12. Excessive Speeding Violations
Certain traffic violations categorized as “serious violations” can lead to losing your CDL privileges. The specific regulations vary by state, but going 15+ miles per hour over the speed limit is considered a serious volition in every state.
If a driver receives two “excessive speeding” violations in a commercial vehicle, they lose their CDL.
And what some drivers don’t realize is your personal vehicle also counts. If a CDL holder is convicted of one excessive speeding volution in a CMV and one in his or her personal vehicle within three years of the first violation, you lose your CDL.
Additionally, if you are convicted of excessive speeding violations in your personal passenger vehicle, and the second offense is within three years of the first, you also lose your CDL (FMCSA).
Your license is your livelihood – why would you place yourself in this situation?
What Happens Next?
Any of these 12 things can ruin your trucking career – permanently.
Once you’ve damaged your record, your only options in this field are undesirable and/or low-paying trucking jobs. For example:
Jobs that require a CDL-B
School bus driver
Driving dump trucks with small trailers
Getting shipments from ports, which typically require you to live near the port
You go from six-figure earning potential to about $30,000 per year, on average.
Please think twice before doing something stupid, like smoking pot during your 10-hour break!
My inbox has been flooded lately with news stories about truckers getting paid far too little to run freight. I saw one owner operator talk about he was getting paid $250 to run a load that used to pay $1,000. It’s all about the greedy brokers who are enjoying high margins, and they need to be stopped (Overdrive). Right?
Many point to government regulation as the answer to fix what’s wrong with trucking. After all, truckers are the backbone of our economy, and they deserve to be treated favorably.
This “easy fix” of capping brokers’ margins or making sure truckers get paid at least a certain amount per load is not, in fact, an easy fix. It’s almost impossible to enforce, and this line of thinking will take you down a dangerous road that looks like a lot like communism.
Before I go on, I have to say that I work and manage an asset company. My heart and soul is with the truckers who run our freight and keep our country moving. And still, I strongly disagree with the idea of putting government regulations on brokers. That should say something.
The History of Government Regulation
The trucking industry has seen its fair share of government regulations over the years. The most recent being the introduction of Electronic Logging Devices, or ELDs.
Did truckers love that government regulation? Heck no!
Are ELDs a perfect solution when you’re seven minutes from your delivery, but you have to shut it down until the next morning to take your mandatory break? No!
Government regulations, no matter how well-meaning, are never perfect.
Plus, the market tightened up immediately when ELDS went into effect (JOC). Brokers lost a ton of money trying to cover loads for their customers, while truckers oftentimes made more than what the brokers had in the load.
It only takes a moment to look at other industries and how less government = good and more government = bad.
When the government deregulated the telecom business, costs went down and better service went up (Direct Energy). Coincidence? I don’t think so.
When the government announced Obamacare, suddenly our health insurance rates started doubling every 6 months, and for less coverage! Now, it’s almost not affordable for the average person to get health insurance (Forbes).
If the government starts regulating brokers, be careful what you wish for. There will be fallout for everyone.
The Trucking Industry Would Collapse
So many drivers say that brokers shouldn’t exist.
I can tell you right now that the trucking industry would collapse without brokers.
If you are working for an asset company hauling freight, you or your company are going to have loads now and again that you can’t take. Maybe the company doesn’t have enough trailers in that location. Maybe someone broke down. Whatever it is, you need brokers to cover that freight.
That’s how that works.
As a trucking company, we haul loads for direct customers, but sometimes, the areas these customer loads take us don’t offer loads back home. We need backhauls – a way to get out of that area while still making money. Deadheading becomes expensive.
Guess what! We need brokers for that.
Without brokers, we’d all be in a world of hurt.
You Can’t Have It Both Ways
So many truckers are demanding that the margins brokers make be capped. First of all, from a practical standpoint, that’s nearly impossible to enforce. How will you know what every broker has in a load? And who can say what is a fair margin?
Brokerages’ operating expenses vary greatly. The margin needed to support the office expenses in Chicago would be drastically different than the expenses to support an office in rural America.
In addition, the volume of loads dictates the margin needed to support a brokerage. Large brokerages can operate on less of a margin than smaller or startup brokerages.
Is it really fair to cap a broker’s gains without minimizing their losses?
As the market rises and falls, brokers have often had to lose money to cover their loads, and that demand can change daily.
How Brokers Bid Rates
Brokerages bid their rates to customers taking into account that, sometimes, they will make no margin, sometimes some margin, other times a lot of margin. And sometimes, they will lose some, while other times, they’ll lose a lot.
They try to bid the rates so that overall, at the end of the year, they make enough margin to stay in operation. This is similar to how I approach bidding rates to a customer directly. I bid enough to cover our direct costs, something to cover our indirect/unexpected costs, and some profit.
There will be times during the year that our company and our drivers can make more than those rates on the open market, but there will be times that we would make much less on the open market. If I bail from my customer when rates are high, I won’t have that customer when rates are low.
Right now, brokers are able to make more margin, and everyone is angry at them and wants to limit how much money they can make.
Again, you can’t limit brokers’ upside when you don’t limit their downside.
And if you did limit their downside, truckers would also have to be forced to take loads. If margins are minimized, truckers would have to take the load, especially when the broker is giving up everything they have in it, minus operating expenses.
Truckers can’t be forced to take loads they don’t want. It’s your truck; it’s your decision. You would never stand for being forced to take a load. And brokers shouldn’t stand for having to limit their margins on sunny days.
A free market is a free market. When the market is up, it’s up. When it’s down, it’s down. But we are fortunate enough to live in capitalism. That’s what makes America different.
Scale Always Wins
The way to combat not being happy with broker rates is simple: get direct customer rate contracts.
Owner operators complain about not being able to do that, so stop being a one-man show, and sign up with a company! Scale always wins.
You won’t get all the highs when the market is right, but you also won’t get the lows.
The Silver Lining
In the 80s and 90s, everyone used brokers for everything. In the last several years, the industry shifted to most shippers wanting to use asset companies.
That gives power back to the asset companies like us and the drivers who haul freight for us.
Want Legislation? Turn to Tort Reform
If truckers really want to advocate for legislation, take a look at tort reform. Nuclear judgments are what’s costing us all an arm and a leg on insurance.
Everywhere you turn, you see nuclear judgments, like families making $89 million in a trucking lawsuit or $140 million in an 18-wheeler accident resulting in neck injuries.
Look, the people involved in these trucking accidents have to be compensated. There’s no doubt about that. They’ve endured incredible pain, oftentimes, the loss of a loved one. And while no amount of money can make it better, it’s the only option there is.
But these multi-million dollar lawsuits are out of hand. If you want to fight for caps, fight for the caps of trucking lawsuits.
That would drive down insurance costs and open up so many more opportunities for truck drivers.
Freight X, LLC is a transportation company with terminals in Georgia and Florida. We run freight of all kinds and have the capacity to run reefer or flatbed loads. We are always recruiting new drivers, so please contact us if you’re interested in joining the team.