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12 Stupid Things Truck Drivers Can Do to Ruin Their Driving Career

12 Stupid Things Truck Drivers Can Do to Ruin Their Driving Career

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.

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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.

Doing Recreational Drugs and Refusing Drug Tests

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
  • Hauling garbage
  • 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!

Become a Truck Driver at Freight X
Brokers Paying Truckers Too Little – Is Legislation the Answer?

Brokers Paying Truckers Too Little – Is Legislation the Answer?

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.

Other Industries

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.

Related Reading:

12 FAQs Truckers Ask About Driving With Freight X

12 FAQs Truckers Ask About Driving With Freight X

We get a lot of similar questions when new drivers call into Freight X. If you’re interested in driving for us, here are some answers to questions you may have!

#1: How much money will I make?

To make things simple, a solo company driver can expect to run about 2,700 miles per week, which brings you right around $1,200 per week gross.

That’s the simple answer, but we wrote a lot more about pay in this article, so check it out: Should I Be a Company Driver or an Owner Operator?

#2: Can Drivers pick their own loads?

In general, no, but it’s not because we want control – it’s because our dispatchers are incredible at what they do. After drivers work with our dispatchers, they tell us they don’t want to pick their own loads.

Our seasoned dispatchers are booking loads every day out of different areas. Freight can be somewhat seasonal, and what might be a great rate going to Colorado today might be not a great rate next week. In other words, just because a load is paying really well going in doesn’t mean you won’t be deadheading out.

We have the tools and experience to make sure what looks like a great rate is actually a great rate. Dispatchers are looking to maximize your weekly revenue – not just the revenue going out to a location on a particular day.

On top of that industry knowledge, our dispatchers make sure you have a scheduled appointment that’s confirmed so you’re not sitting around and waiting all day. You want our dispatchers looking out for your best interest.

In addition, we have a lot of customer freight, which means no matter how high or low the market is, our freight is reliable and steady.

With all that said, we take our drivers’ preferences to heart. A lot of companies don’t care what you want or where you want to go – we’re quite the opposite. We listen to every driver and honor their requests. We also take home time seriously. 

Our dispatchers also go above and beyond to ensure drivers don’t get burnt out by building in needed breaks at home. They make sure you’re doing well both financially and mentally. We really take pride in how we treat our drivers – like family.

#3: What do you offer for teams?

We really have the ideal setup right now for team drivers. The combination of high compensation, light loads, and dedicated lanes is a team’s dream.

Here are the highlights:

  • Excellent pay (pay varies on runs)
  • Dedicated lanes/routes
  • Dedicated light loads under 10,000 pounds
  • 90% drop and hook – no sitting around, about 15-minute load and unload time
  • In and out of Florida
  • Cash bonus if you run 3 round trips per week, which most teams take advantage of
  • Each team driver consistently grosses up to $2,200 per week

Send us an inquiry if you’re a team interested in this offer.

#4: Will I be home daily?

It’s pretty rare to be home every day, but it depends on the lane. In some instances, yes. 

If you’re a Florida-based driver, we do have some mail runs that are home every day, but they’re all taken right now. With that said, the lanes we have are constantly changing, so if you’re interested in driving for us, send us an inquiry and we’ll get back to you if we have a good fit for what you’re interested in.

#5: What makes of tractors are available for lease?

We’re currently leasing 2015 and newer ProStar Internationals.

#6:  Do you have driving jobs in my city/state?

It depends on the contracts we get. We always have driving jobs in Atlanta, Miami, and Orlando. We typically go as far west as the Mississippi.

As far as regionality, we’re heavy in the southeast and go up the eastern seaboard.

#7: What type of freight do you pull and in what kind of trailer?

We do FAK (freights of all kind) in dry vans.

#8: I have careless driving on my Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) – can you hire me?

As you probably know, insurance companies frown upon careless driving on your MVR. Hiring safe drivers is our top priority, so we feel most comfortable with at least 5 years since the last incident. We handle careless driving from the last 3-5 years on a case-by-case basis.

#9: When can I start a lease purchase contract?

If you’re interested in becoming a lease purchase owner operator at Freight X, you must be a company driver for at least 90 days first.

#10: If I’ve been driving for many years, do I still need to be a company driver for 90 days?

Yes. During the 90-day period, you have a chance to get familiar with us, the type of freight we haul, etc. We also get more comfortable with your reliability as a driver. We have a lot of risk when doing a lease purchase agreement, so we also appreciate the extra time to get to know you as a driver.

If you know from the beginning that you’re interested in lease purchasing, we’ll start you out in the truck you want to eventually lease. You have the opportunity to try it before you buy it, and we also repair anything that’s wrong with the truck as you do your DVIRs (Daily Vehicle Inspection Report).

This helps you get comfortable with us before we go through all the paperwork of a lease.

#11: After 90 days do I just automatically go into the lease?

After the 90-day period as a company driver, you can choose to stay a company driver or you can choose to lease purchase the truck. As long as we’ve gauged you’ll be successful in the lease purchase program (not everyone is a good fit!), then we’ll put together a contract.

You’ll pick a truck (if it’s not the one you’re already driving), we’ll settle on the price, the payments, etc. We help you with everything – plates, insurance, fuel discount, and more.

#12: What are you doing for COVID-19?

Drivers can rest assured that Freight X has a robust continuity plan. We have prepared our office with remote work capability, so your dispatcher can continue serving you from home if need be. Our phone system is equipped to transfer to our cell phones seamlessly, and we have a secure way of connecting to our information with a VPN. 

Our drivers are also prepared to face the challenges. We know finding meals can be the biggest challenge as many restaurants are closed, but nearly all Freight X trucks have fridges in them. We’ve also given all drivers a credit to purchase hand sanitizer, and we’re ready to offer additional support to our drivers in any way we can.

We mean it when we say we are prepared for anything. We know drivers are our everyday heroes, and it’s during a crisis that they get the much-needed attention they deserve. Thank you to all of our drivers – and the drivers across our great country – for being true front line heroes.

Learn more about driving for Freight X:

Notice to All Freight X Customers and Drivers About the Coronavirus

Notice to All Freight X Customers and Drivers About the Coronavirus

Like so many of you, we have spent the last several days and weeks learning about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it is impacting our world. For Freight X LLC, that means understanding how it affects our employees, customers, and communities, and then making the necessary adjustments to our work and operations.

We have one simple objective that guides us: keeping our employees and customers safe. This has been at the center of our conversations every step of the way. With that in mind, we have made several moves in our business in response to the threat of the coronavirus.

We have ramped up cleaning services at our offices and are adding hand sanitizer at the front entrances. Sanitizing wipes are near workstations so that employees can keep them continuously cleaned.

We are closely following the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidelines and recommendations on the steps we can take to help prevent the spread of the virus. We have shared specific instructions with our employees on the importance of washing their hands and staying home if they feel sick.  Per CDC recommendations, we have instructed our employees who may have been exposed to others who have traveled to such locations to self-quarantine for 14 days.

A strict travel policy for our employees is in place, and we have canceled meetings with large gatherings, again to do what we can to help prevent the spread of the illness.

If someone in our office would test positive for the Coronavirus, we will close the office and have all employees work from home. We have remote computer and communication capabilities for all office employees should the need arise for everyone to not come into the office.

We have given every driver a $5 reimbursement voucher for the purchase of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content to have in their truck. We have also shared the following instructions:

  • Put enough product on hands to cover all surfaces.
  • Rub hands together, until hands feel dry. This should take around 20 seconds.
  • Note: Do not rinse or wipe off the hand sanitizer before it’s dry; it may not work as well against germs.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation and do all we can to protect you and our employees.

Should I Be a Company Driver or an Owner Operator?

Should I Be a Company Driver or an Owner Operator?

In most cases, truck drivers have two career paths to consider: become a company driver or be an owner operator. Each career path has its pros and cons – it just depends on what you’re looking for in a trucking career.

In this quick guide, we’ll go over company drivers, owner operators, and which option might be best for you and your situation.

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What Is a Company Driver?

company driver is an employee of a trucking company that drives a company truck. Company drivers are paid by the mile or the hour, and they typically receive benefits like any other employee.

Paid By the Mile vs. Paid By the Hour

So, is it better to be paid for every mile you drive, or does it make more sense to be paid for each hour you work? The short answer is it depends.

In general, shorter haul loads don’t offer enough miles to make per-mile payment worth your while. For example, if a load is only 97 miles each way, you’re only running about 200 miles per day. If you were paid by the mile, that’s less than $500 per week!

Most drivers aren’t going to work for only $500 per week. That’s why drivers who run local freight are typically paid by the hour. We call these “hourly runs.”

Guys and gals that are on the road doing 500-600 miles per day prefer a per-mile rate because it’s going to pay them more than an hourly rate.

You can really get in the weeds with the math here, but the gist is if you’re hired for a local job, it’s probably going to be an hourly position. And if you’re hired as an over-the-road driver, you’re probably going to be paid by the mile.

Sidenote: There’s a little bit of a push in the trucking industry to pay all drivers by the hour. Some believe paying drivers for every mile they run encourages speeding. This isn’t a massive push by any means – more of a gentle nudge if you will.

In our opinion, this line of thinking isn’t going anywhere because today’s technology is so advanced. For example, there are truck devices that don’t allow you to speed, even if you wanted to.

What Benefits Do Company Drivers Get?

Company drivers are employees, and as an employee, you receive valuable benefits like contributions towards your health insurance, workers’ compensation, and even access to a 401(k) retirement plan if your employer offers it.

Company drivers also have the advantage of reliability. In general, you know what your earnings are going to be (or can be), and you don’t face any unexpected expenses. Company drivers are not responsible for paying for their truck, truck maintenance, or fuel.

Here are some major things company drivers don’t have to worry about:

  • Fuel costs going up and down
  • No earnings if your truck breaks down (you get breakdown pay)
  • No earnings if your loads are too spaced apart (you get layover pay)
  • No earnings if you have to deadhead to get a load (you are paid by the mile or hour)

That’s all pretty reassuring to those who prefer the predictability and reliability of a steady job.

How Much Can You Make As a Company Driver?

Company drivers typically make around $75,000 annually. This is all dependent on your experience and the distance you’re willing to drive. Regional positions pay less, for example, and drivers with a lot of experience are paid more.

Average hourly rates can span from $15 to as high as $25 per hour. The biggest factors here are where you’re driving and any endorsements you have. For example, drivers up north are paid on the higher end, and drivers with HAZMAT and Tanker endorsements are paid more.

As a company driver, the more miles you run or the more hours you work, the more you’ll obviously make, but you are capped to a certain extent. It’s unlikely you’ll ever earn more than about 52 cents per mile driven, and you can only work so many hours in the week.

Additionally, some companies won’t want you to get into overtime, and some driving jobs only pay straight time no matter how many hours you work.

Typical company drivers can expect to make around $75,000 per year. Some of our very own Freight X company drivers are even earning upwards of $90,000 per year, so it really can depend.

Drivers with a lot of motivation who are out on the road more often tend to earn on the higher end of that range, while drivers who prefer to have more home time will be on the lower end. Needless to say, the pay is fantastic, especially since you don’t need any advanced degrees.

If you prefer predictability and don’t want to take on the risks of owning your own business, being a company driver is an excellent career path for you.

What Is an Owner Operator?

An owner operator is an independent business owner that teams up with a trucking company for back-office support. Owner operators lease or own their own trucks. If the owner operator is leasing the truck, they’re referred to a lease purchase owner operator.

Read more: 7 Ways to Avoid Getting Screwed Over on a Lease Purchase Agreement

If an owner operator has other drivers working under him or her, they’re referred to as a freight agent.

Read more: Why Becoming a Freight Agent Is the Best Way to Grow a Small Fleet

In any case, when you’re responsible for your own equipment, it means you take on the risk of any business owner. On the bright side, you are entirely independent and have the pride of being your own boss.

Are Owner Operators Considered Employees?

Owner operators are not considered employees. In most cases, owner operators are 1099 independent contractors.

Since owner ops aren’t employees, it should be said that taxes are not automatically taken out of their earnings, so please, please, please! save a portion of your income for tax time. You do NOT want to be like many owner operators who owe the IRS and don’t have the ability to pay them.

What Do Owner Operators Have to Pay For?

Owner operators are running their own businesses, and while they make a lot more money on the freight they haul, they also have a lot more expenses. Some expenses you can plan for, while others can come out of the blue.

The main expenses of an owner operator include:

  • Truck maintenance costs
  • Truck breakdowns
  • Health insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Other Unforeseen business expenses

Sidenote: Most trucking companies don’t supply health insurance for owner operators. There may be a few exceptions, but in general, that’s the standard.

While all of these expenses can definitely add up, there’s a reason why truckers decide to become owner operators, and that’s the income!

How Much Can You Make As an Owner Operator?

Owner operators have the potential to make significantly more money than a company driver. Owner operators typically make between 70-80% of the load.

Here at Freight X, we pay 82% of the load. 

You can read more about that here: 5 Key Reasons Truck Drivers Switch Trucking Companies

As an owner operator, you have the power to choose your own destiny. An owner operator’s annual earnings can range from $78,000-$156,000.

If you’re out on the road diligently, you’ll be on the higher end of the range, and if you continually turn down loads, you’ll be on the lower end.

Don’t forget that owner operators are responsible for their own business expenses, but on the bright side, expenses are tax-deductible. You just have to keep track of them!

What Do Trucking Companies Offer Owner Operators?

You’re making about 82% of the load, so why are you giving up 18% to the trucking company you’re running under?

That can depend on the trucking company, so you really want to do your homework here. You want to be sure you’re partnering with a company that is supporting your growth and is offering top-of-the-line trucking solutions. Don’t give up that percentage to just anyone!

Here at Freight X, we offer best-in-class software, great customer relationships, a shop with incredibly skilled mechanics, and so much more. In fact, here’s a quick sampling of the benefits we provide to owner operators:

  • Pilot/Flying J agreement – fantastic fuel discount!
  • Experienced in-house mechanics that are paid by the hour, not commission
  • Best-in-class tech – Dossier, McLeod, and Transflo
  • More opportunities – drop and hook, trailer pools, customers
  • Free subscription to DAT and Truckstop
  • Great dispatch and load planning support from staff with decades of trucking experience
  • Fueling location optimization to save you money on fuel expenses
  • We file your IFTA
  • ELD provided and monitored

These are just some of the highlights of what we offer to owner operators, but as you can see, that’s a ton of value. We’re able to offer all of this because of the volume we do.

However, we still maintain that small, family-owned company feel. When you call us, you’ll be greeted by your name, not a number. It’s truly the best of both worlds!


How Much Does an Owner Operator Truck Driver Make After Expenses?

Expenses are pretty unpredictable – as are many aspects of trucking! However, many trucking companies (including Freight X) assist owner operators by offering optional maintenance accounts.

You can request to automatically put in part of your earnings into the maintenance account until it reaches an amount you’re comfortable with. That provides you some insurance, so to speak, if you run into any major maintenance or breakdown issues.

Once your maintenance account has a good amount of padding in it, you don’t have to worry about unforeseen expenses coming out of your check.

Your expenses and income are going to range greatly, but we know you probably want to see some kind of example, so we came up with one.

Assuming you run 100,000 in a year, you should plan for about $74,500 in annual expenses. Also assuming you get $2 per mile, which is very reasonable, you would make $200,000 that year.

In sum, an owner operator who runs 100,000 miles annually can expect to make about $125,500 after expenses. And again, expenses are tax-deductible.

Here’s an example of what expenses look like if you run 100,000 in a year:

  • $24,000: Fuel (at Freight X, you get a fuel card with a fuel discount)
  • $16,500: Food and drink while on the road – this is called “per diem” and is major for your taxes – you can deduct $66 per day in 2021)
  • $15,000: Truck maintenance
  • $13,000: Insurance
  • $5,000: Tires
  • $1,000: General administrative expenses (accounting, for example)

Fuel is going to be your largest expense, but it’s not as bad as it sounds since it’s factored into the rate of the load. Owner operators at Freight X regularly bring home between $2,000-$3,000 per week, and that’s after fuel expenses.

Owner Operator vs. Company Driver

One option isn’t inherently better than the other – it just depends on your personality and which option fits your needs the best at this time.

You’re probably better suited to be a company driver (for now) if you agree with the majority of these statements:

  • I’m relatively new to truck driving.
  • I’m not financially prepared to be on the hook for tractor repairs or maintenance costs.
  • I like predictability.
  • I don’t generally like to take on risk if I can help it.
  • I’ve never really had the desire to own my own business.

On the other hand, you might be better suited to become an owner operator if you agree with the majority of these statements:

  • I’ve been driving trucks for several years (or more).
  • I’m financially prepared to handle tractor repairs or maintenance costs.
  • I don’t mind taking on risk when there’s a potential for upside.
  • I’ve always wanted to own my own truck.
  • I’ve always wanted to start my own business.

If you want to be an owner operator but you’re not financially prepared for unexpected costs and you don’t know how to own your own truck, consider becoming a lease purchase owner operator.

Read this first, though: 7 Ways to Avoid Getting Screwed Over on a Lease Purchase Agreement

Conclusion

If you have any questions about becoming a company driver or owner operator here at Freight X, be sure to visit our Become a Driver page. If you think being an Owner Operator with us is right for you, check out our Owner Operators page.

You can fill out the form there to get in touch with us, or just give us a call at 352-629-2042!