If you’re a truck driver and your company leaves you stranded, it can extremely stressful. Being stranded in the middle of nowhere is nothing new for drivers, but as of late, it has become an even bigger issue.
In 2019, about 10 midsize to large trucking companies shut down, including HVH Transportation, New England Motor Freight Inc., Falcon Transport, Stevens Tanker Division, and most notably, Celadon (Freight Waves).
Celadon Group Inc. had the largest trucking failure of 2019, leaving over 2,500 drivers stranded thousands of miles from home. These drivers found that their fuel cards were deactivated, and no one was telling them what to do about upcoming planned loads or their trucks.
To make matters even worse, many drivers were in the middle of a load with trailers full of goods. They knew they wouldn’t be paid if they finished their route, but at the same time, what are you supposed to do with a loaded trailer full of someone’s stuff?
Whether your trucking company went bankrupt or your truck broke down and they’re not sending you help, we have some advice on what to do going forward when you’re stranded far from home.
Don’t Trash The Truck!
The theme here is that you shouldn’t take a bad situation and make it worse. Although the company may owe you money, they left you stranded, they deactivated your fuel card, and you have their equipment, you don’t want to do anything stupid. It’s not worth risking your future!
As a truck driver, your license, your record, and your overall standing as a driver is your livelihood. Resist the urge to trash the vehicle, leave it in some random field, or park it on a back road in the middle of nowhere. Decisions like that can come back to bite you, and you want to be employable in the future.
Park Your Truck at a Truck Stop
If you’ve tried contacting your dispatchers, the management, and you’ve exhausted all resources, we recommend parking the truck at a truck stop. Put the keys on the dipstick, remove your personal items, and lock the doors.
Don’t leave the keys in the ignition, because that’s a pretty obvious spot, and you could be blamed in the future if the truck is stolen.
Take Photos of How You Left the Truck
Finally, take photos of where you left the truck and what condition you left it in. The more photos, the better. Treat it like an accident and document the truck thoroughly.
This extra step will make sure you’re protected if someone tries to blame you for damage to the truck later on.
Sometimes, trucking companies are also bought out by venture capitalists, and their goal is to sell everything off and close the doors to milk it for all its worth. We aren’t bankruptcy law experts, but that can happen. They’re going to come after that truck eventually, so take photos to make sure you have nothing to worry about.
Get an Uber or Bus Ticket Home
Once you’ve dealt with the truck, it’s time to get home. If you’re relatively close to home, you can get an Uber or Lyft relatively inexpensively.
If you’re a bit farther away, consider purchasing a bus ticket, which can be a lot cheaper than airfare.
Contact Trucking Companies In the Area
If you’re seriously stranded – as in, thousands of miles from home – larger trucking companies can often afford to send for you. They are all itching for new drivers, so you may find that they’re willing to go the extra mile to recruit you.
You might also contact trucking companies in the area. If you’re out of money and can’t get a ride, lots of companies will definitely help you out. People out there want you as a driver and may be able to pick you up.
Budget a Rainy Day Fund
Especially as an owner operator, we recommend having a little bit of savings in a rainy day fund. While you never expect your trucking company to go out of business or leave you stranded, you want to be prepared for anything. That includes the potential of being stranded without help.
In addition, don’t expect your trucking company to shell out $10,000 to come get you if your truck broke down across the country. A lot of drivers jump from job to job, so why would the company bend over backward if they expect you to leave?
However, loyal drivers can expect the “royal” treatment. Trucking companies will go the extra mile (pun intended!) for drivers who stick around and are dedicated to their position. (Including us.)
In any case, having some money set aside for situations like this will ease your worries and help you transition to the next opportunity.
As a trucker, you’re in demand and are always employable. The nice thing is it won’t take you months to find a new job. Move on, but do it in the right way.
In our industry, integrity is key. Keep an excellent reputation and resist the urge to retaliate. This too shall pass.
Choose a Trucking Company That Won’t Leave You Stranded
Finally, be sure to work for a company that won’t leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere! Here at Freight X, we’re there for our drivers – especially when they need us the most.
Maurice Watson, a loyal driver currently on our lease-purchase program, explains in his Driver Spotlight, “you’re never stranded with this company.”
When his truck broke down in the middle of Arizona, Maurice found out it would take nearly a month to get it fixed. Our team at Freight X sent help from Florida all the way to Arizona – and with a tractor in tow!
“I was so happy to see them come over the horizon with that tractor,” Maurice says. “Not too many companies are actually doing that. That was a life-saving moment for me.”
Of course, we’d love to have you as a part of our driving team here at Freight X. However, be sure to ask whatever company you’re talking with what they’d do in a similar situation.
Being stranded in the middle of nowhere is extremely stressful, especially when you have no support from your trucking company.
If we can be of any assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can call our office at 325-629-2042 for help, or you can reach us via our Contact Form.
Whether you’re an experienced driver or are new to trucking, there’s a lot of lingo to learn! Just like any industry, we have shortened words, acronyms, and trucker slang that’s just part of our everyday conversation.
If you have no clue what pups are (not the canine kind!), or you’re lost when someone mentions IFTA or FMCSA, this is your ultimate list of trucking industry terms. We’re sure to have forgotten some, so be sure to leave your suggestions in the comment section at the end!
11-Hour Driving Limit: part of the FMCSA Hours-of-Service Rules; property-carrying drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. (Read the regulation here.)
14-Hour Limit: part of the FMCSA Hours-of-Service Rules; property-carrying drivers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period. (Read the regulation here.)
60/70-Hour Limit: part of the FMCSA Hours-of-Service Rules; property-carrying drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty. (Read the regulation here.)
Agent: in the context of truck driving, an agent is an individual who oversees a small fleet of trucks and partners with a larger trucking company to lower operating costs – read more here.
American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI): a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization whose primary mission is to conduct transportation research, with an emphasis on the trucking industry’s essential role in a safe, efficient and viable transportation system.
APU (Auxiliary Power Unit): a unit that offers increased driver comfort, greater fuel savings, better driver recruitment/retention, idle reduction, lowered maintenance costs, and higher tractor residual values.
ATA (American Trucking Association): founded in 1933; the largest national trade association for the trucking industry.
Backhaul: a driver’s return trip; typically pays a lower rate (unless you live in Florida!); backhauls typically are taken to position a driver for another, better-paying headhaul.
Balloon payment: a large one-time payment due at the end of a loan term; in trucking, this is quite common in unfair lease purchase agreements – read more here.
Berth: sleeping compartment behind the cab; also called a sleeper.
Bill of Lading: an itemized list of goods contained in a shipment.
Bobtail: A tractor operating without a trailer. Comes from the cat breed “American Bobtail” which is known for its short, stubby tail.
Bumped the dock: a driver backed up to a dock door ready to load or unload at pick up or delivery.
Cabover: also called COE, or Cab-Over-Engine; a truck design that houses the cab over the engine.
CB (Citizens Band Radio): A two-way radio system used to communicate traffic conditions, requests for help, or conversations.
CDL (Commercial Driver’s License): The license that authorizes an individual to operate commercial motor vehicles and buses over 26,000 pounds.
CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle): the FMCSR has defined CMV as a vehicle that is used as part of a business and is involved in interstate commerce and fits any of these descriptions:
Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards
Company driver: a driver who is an employee of a trucking company driving a company truck; typically paid by the mile or hourly.
DAC (Drive-A-Check) report: a comprehensive file that contains the last 10 years of your employment history, license verification, driving history, DOT physical results, criminal background checks, and any other information requested at a company; managed by HireRight. Carriers can also report a bad driver, which will show up on a DAC report and will likely influence future driving opportunities.
DAT (Dial-a-Truck): the largest truckload freight marketplace in North America.
Deadhead: when a driver is moving with an empty trailer; typically happens when a driver must drive a certain distance to pick up their next load.
Detention: compensation paid to the driver when a route is delayed either at pick up or delivery (typically longer than 2 hours at the time of pick up or delivery).
Dossier: a software company that provides fleet maintenance management solutions for the transportation industry. (We use Dossier here at Freight X.)
DOT (Department of Transportation): The Department of Transportation was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966. DOT’s mission is to ensure our nation has the safest, most efficient and modern transportation system in the world.
Drop and Hook: when a driver delivers a load at the final delivery location for a customer and he/she drops the trailer and picks up a new one.
Dry van: shipping container used to haul pallets or boxes of cargo; the most common type of freight transportation today.
E-Log: An online system used to track hours of services and milage.
EDI (Electronic Data Interchange): the concept of businesses electronically communicating information that was traditionally communicated on paper, such as purchase orders and invoices; most customers in the trucking industry require EDI.
ELD (Electronic Logging Device): electronic hardware that is attached to a commercial motor vehicle engine to record driving hours.
Factoring: when a carrier receives payment from a third-party financial company after delivering a load and waiting for payment. The purpose of factoring is to improve cashflow.
Forced dispatch: when a dispatcher forces a driver to take a load that violates regulations or personal boundaries set at the time of hire; for example, telling a driver they must run a load that infringes on their hours of service or they will be fired; typically only applies to company drivers.
Flatbed: a type of trailer that is flat, which allows it to be loaded from all angles if needed; allows for larger freight to be loaded as there are no walls; typically unloaded by a crane or outdoor equipment; typically pays better than dry van freight as it requires more waiting – deliveries are often to job sites with tighter delivery windows and limited unloading equipment.
FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration): part of the Department of Transportation whose primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.
FSC (Fuel surcharge): an extra fee that trucking companies charge to cover the fluctuating cost of fuel; the fuel surcharge is not meant to cover all fuel used on the load – it only covers a portion. A typical fuel surcharge may range between 20-35 cents per mile.
Fuel discount: trucking companies can partner with gas stations to receive a discount based on volume; discounts are often defined on a “cost plus” basis or a “retail minus” basis. For example, you may pay cost plus 4 or retail minus 4.
Fuel island: another term for a gas station, but in trucking, we don’t get gas – we get diesel fuel, thus we call these filling stations “fuel islands” (or truck stops).
Fueling Location Optimization: the cheapest price at the pump doesn’t actually mean it’s going to be the cheapest due to individual state taxes, so dispatchers will optimize a driver’s route to ensure they get the lowest-cost fuel, despite the price at the pump.
G, H, I
GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating): the maximum operating weight/mass of a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer.
Hazmat: Hazardous materials, as classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Must have a Hazmat Certification as a driver to run these loads; the carrier must also be Hazmat Certified and have appropriate insurance in place.
Headhaul: the load you take leaving the terminal (such as your home or your home state).
HOS (Hours of Service): U.S. Department of Transportation safety regulations which govern the hours of service of commercial vehicle drivers engaged in interstate trucking operations. These rules are designed to eliminate the type of drowsiness that can lead to crashes. (Read the full regulation here.)
IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement): an agreement between the lower 48 states of the United States and the Canadian provinces to simplify the reporting of fuel use by motor carriers that operate in more than one jurisdiction. An operating carrier with IFTA receives an IFTA license and two decals for each qualifying vehicle it operates. The carrier files a quarterly fuel tax report. This report is used to determine the net tax or refund due and to redistribute taxes from collecting states to states that it is due.
Layover: similar to detention, layover is paid by the trucking company to the driver when they spend a certain amount of time not driving.
Lease Purchase Driver: A driver who is in a lease agreement with a trucking company to eventually own their truck and become an owner operator; many trucking companies have given lease purchase agreements a bad name due to unfair contracts and bad business practices – read more here.
Load board: also known as freight boards; an online system that allows shippers and brokers to post loads.
Logbook: A records book where drivers record their hours of service and duty status for each 24-hour period.
Long-haul: driving long distances.
LTL (Less-Than-Truckload): A load that is typically less than 10,000 pounds; the quantity of freight is less than what is required to fill a full truckload.
Maintenance account: An account that holds a small percentage of your earnings over time to cover potential truck repair costs; typically required during lease purchase contracts, and the average amount held back is between 12-20 cents per loaded mile.
McLeod: a trucking software provider that provides solutions for trucking dispatch operations management, freight brokerage management, fleet management, document imaging, workflow, and EDI. (We use McLeod here at Freight X.)
MT: driver slang for “empty.”
Owner Operator: A driver who owns his/her own truck and runs as a 1099 contractor for a trucking company.
OTR (Over the Road) Driver: A driver who travels cross-country to deliver freight; typically sleeps in his/her sleeper and averages upwards of 100,000 miles annually.
Personal Conveyance: the movement of a commercial motor vehicle for personal use while off-duty.
Power only: pulling someone else’s trailer when running a load; the driver is supplying the “power only.”
Pups: containers that are just 26–29 feet long, instead of the standard 53 feet.
Regen: when soot builds up inside the DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter), a driver may be forced to pull over and do a ‘forced regen,’ or a self-cleaning process that can take about 45 minutes. Without a regen, the tractor may not be operable.
Reefer: a refrigerated trailer, commonly used for the transportation of food; these loads typically pay more because they require more attention from the driver and you have to put fuel in the tractor and the trailer.
Relay: two drivers with loaded trucks who meet in a central destination to swap trailers and return to their points of origin.
Rolling regen: the same as a regular regen, but you do not have to stop to perform the regen. It’s important to never interrupt a rolling regen, or you risk future issues.
Sleeper: the sleeping compartment mounted behind the truck cab; where drivers sleep while on the road.; also called Berth.
Sleeper Berth Provision: part of the FMCSA Hours-of-Service Rules; drivers using the sleeper berth provision must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two. (Read the regulation here.)
Spot market rates: shipping prices that exist right now; typically paid by the broker.
Spread axel: tandem axels existing on flatbed trailers that can slide independent of each other – one is fixed, and the other, you can generally spread out.
Step-deck: a trailer that has two deck levels – an upper deck and a lower deck which drops down after it clears the tractor tandems.
Stop pay: loads with several delivery locations in which compensation is given for each stop made; generally, a load consists of one “pick,” or origin, and one “drop,” or destination. Intermediate stops are typically compensated by the company.
Super single: tires that are twice as wide as typical tires; each “super single” replaces two typical tires; can be used on tractors or trailers; these offer better fuel economy, but if one fails, you’re stuck and cannot continue driving under any circumstances.
Tandems: the two axels beneath the trailer that must be set a certain distance from the kingpin (distance varies by state and sometimes requires special permitting).
Team: two drivers working together allowing freight to move faster as one drives while the other sleeps; teams earn a higher rate per mile.
TMS (Transportation Management System): an online platform designed to streamline the shipping process; an example of a TMS is McLeod or TMW.
Tractor Trailer: a tractor and semitrailer combined.
Transflo: a mobile, telematics, ELD, and business process automation company with technology for commercial drivers, fleets, and brokers. (We use Transflo here at Freight X.)
TONU (Truck Ordered Not Used): if you’re dispatched on a load and the shipper says there is no load ready for pickup upon arrival, the broker or customer must pay you for the TONU; typically only applies to owner operators as company drivers are paid by the mile.
Truckstop: alongside DAT, one of the most widely used load boards in America.
USDOT Number: serves as a unique identifier when collecting and monitoring a company’s safety information acquired during audits, compliance reviews, crash investigations, and inspections.
What Trucking Lingo Did We Miss?
There you have it! This is our compiled list of trucking terminology that we’ve seen and used over the years. We’re sure we’re missing some, so be sure to leave your ideas and suggestions in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!
There’s no escaping the fact that the turnover rate in the trucking industry is shameful.
Truck drivers are constantly leaving one trucking company for another, and it’s becoming a very rare occurrence to talk to a driver who has been loyal and dedicated to his or her company for years.
Before we get into the reasons why, it’s important to understand what exactly the driver turnover rate is, and how it compares to other industries.
What’s the Driver Turnover Rate?
According to the American Trucking Association’s Trucking Activity Report, the annual truck driver turnover rate is 94%.
Let that sink in for a second… that means that your average trucking company is going to lose nearly ALL of their drivers in a year. That’s insane! And in reality, many trucking companies experience over 100% turnover rate, which means they’re losing all of their drivers in less than a year. It’s a constant churn.
Other industries, like construction, have a 5% turnover rate. Education and health services are at under 3%. And off in the corner of the universe is the trucking industry at a staggering 94%!
We’re lucky enough here at Freight X to have a lower turnover rate than the industry average, but still, it’s clear that the majority of drivers either aren’t happy, or they are constantly looking for something better.
Here are the top 5 reasons we’ve found truck drivers to leave their current trucking company for a new one:
Drivers aren’t happy with their dispatchers.
Drivers are looking for higher pay somewhere else.
Drivers are looking to run more miles.
Drivers aren’t getting enough home time.
Operations isn’t following through with what was promised during recruitment.
While some of these reasons are 100% valid, there are some potential traps to look out for. For example, what sounds like higher pay in an advertisement doesn’t always mean higher pay. Let’s get into it.
1. Drivers aren’t happy with their dispatchers.
While pay is obviously a very important factor, it’s not everything. In a safety class I recently attended, the presenter mentioned that whenever surveys are done among truck drivers, the No. 1 reason drivers leave for another company isn’t the money – it’s that they’re not happy with their dispatchers.
When a driver doesn’t have support from the office staff, especially their dispatcher, it can feel like they’re all alone on the road.
Driving a truck can be lonely as it is, and when you’re missing the support you need from your dispatcher and office team, it can be enough to make you pack your bags for a new employer.
Loneliness can lead to serious health conditions like cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even impaired immune system function. In fact, loneliness is as detrimental to your health as obesity or smoking (Journal of Aging Life Care). While many drivers find solitude in driving, and some even see it as therapeutic, others can really suffer from being disconnected from others.
That’s why having great support and communication from your team, especially your dispatcher, is so critical. And that’s why we take it very seriously here at Freight X.
While we’re not perfect, we feel like we’ve built an incredible team that’s supportive and is constantly in communication with drivers. And that’s the way it should be!
2. Drivers are looking for higher pay somewhere else.
The most publicized reason for driver turnover is pay. When a company advertisers higher pay, many drivers are quick to take them up on the offer without a second thought.
And when compensation is high and competitive, the trucking industry as a whole experiences less turnover. According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), the driver turnover rate for large truckload carriers dropped to 78 percent in the last quarter of 2018, and JOC says higher truck driver pay is the reason behind it.
We get it – while pay isn’t everything, it is one of the most important factors when evaluating your job. However, it’s important to understand the two potential traps behind an offer for higher pay:
Higher pay, but for fewer miles
Higher percentage for owner operators, but with a catch
Higher pay for fewer miles
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard drivers talk about how yes, they’re making more per mile at their current company, but they don’t get even 1,000 miles in a week!
Higher pay only means something if you’re actually out there running freight. If you’re only making $400 paychecks, who cares that you’re making an extra cent or two per mile?!
We run our drivers as much as they want, with the average mileage per week being over 3,500 miles. The drivers who make the most money are the ones who are out for 2 weeks and come home for a few days to relax.
The longer you’re on the road, the more dough you can bring home.
Higher percentage for owner ops, but there’s a catch
For our owner operators out there, the percentage of the load is key. However, there are two ways a company can do this:
Pay you a percentage of the total load
Pay you a percentage of the line haul and another percentage of the fuel
This distinction is really important because it can be deceiving.
For example, some companies advertise a whopping 75% for owner operators. However, a number that high is going to be 75% of the total load – including fuel.
The way we structure our program is 70% of the line haul, and 100% of the fuel. We think this is a much more fair approach for the owner op, because you’re the one paying for the fuel!
As fuel goes up and down in price, fuel surcharges also fluctuate – drivers should get 100% of that no matter what.
The only time that a higher percentage of the total load will work in your favor is if you’re running a load that’s very few miles with a very high rate per mile.
Our model, or 70% of the line haul and 100% of the fuel, works in your favor in every other circumstance – especially if you’re in a situation where you’re making a low amount per mile and have to travel a long distance.
Owner Operator Percentages Examples
We’re getting in the weeds here, but stick with us.
Example 1: 100-mile run at $5 per mile
Let’s say we have a 100-mile run paying $5 per mile. At current fuel rates, that would be about $37 Fuel Surcharge (FSC), and $463 line haul.
Using our model, the driver would be paid $324.10 of the line haul and $37 in fuel, making his total pay $361.10, or 72.22% of the total load.
In this example where you’re making a lot per mile and are going a short distance, the 75% of the total load would actually work out better for you, because you would have made $13.90 more. But, $13 isn’t really a big difference.
Example 2: 500-mile run at $1 per mile
Now, let’s say you have a 500-mile run, and this time, it’s out of a bad area. It’s only paying $1 per mile. At current fuel rates, this would be $185 in FSC, and $315 in line haul. Using our model, a driver would make $220.50 in line haul and $185 in FSC, making his total pay $405.50, or 81.1% of the total load.
The lower rate and longer miles made the FSC account for a larger portion of the overall rate.
If you were at a straight 75% of the total load, the pay would still be $375, or $30.50 less. That’s a bigger difference in the amount of money the driver will bring home.
Our model helps the driver when the rate is low and the miles are long – which is exactly when he needs help to cover fuel! And when the rate per mile is high and the miles are short, the rate helps make up for the fuel you burn.
3. Drivers are looking to run more miles.
Like we were just saying, making more per mile means nothing if you’re not being given any miles.
We actually have seen this happen to drivers in a lease purchase contract – when they get close to finally paying off the truck, the company stops giving them loads, and they get burned!
If you’re not making any money at your current company due to lack of milage, you need to look for a different trucking company that will keep your schedule as full as you can handle!
Look for a company that rewards dispatchers for having higher mileage on its trucks – that’s a sure way to know that everyone is working towards the same goal. Which is to make money, of course!
4. Drivers aren’t getting enough home time.
While more mileage equals higher pay, there’s a balance. Not having consistent home time, or any home time at all, is the quickest way to get burnt out.
It’s no wonder drivers start looking for a new trucking company when they’re never able to see their children.
Striking a work-life balance is difficult in trucking, but setting expectations with your employer from the beginning is important.
We’ve had drivers request to be home every weekend, and we accommodate that. We have other drivers who prefer to knock out two weeks of driving, then come home and rest with their families for 4 or 5 days. That’s a great way to maximize your earnings while maintaining a work-life balance.
No matter what your preference is for having home time, make sure you discuss this with your employer before coming on board.
Speaking of which….
5. Operations isn’t following through with what was promised during recruitment.
When you’re told that you’ll be given 3,000 miles per week and will be home every other week and it doesn’t happen… we wouldn’t blame you for jumping ship.
Logistics is extremely complicated and fragile, and anyone in trucking knows that nothing ever goes as planned. Having a bad week is basically guaranteed.
Your truck breaks down, the weather sucks, the shipper had a delay, you ran into major traffic and missed your delivery window… it all happens. But it’s important to understand the difference between typical trucking and lack of follow-through from operations.
If a pattern emerges and a length of time goes by that none of the promises made upon hire are being fulfilled, it’s time to have a talk with operations. At that point, you can consider looking for a new trucking company, or perhaps it was all a misunderstanding.
Opening up the lines of communication is extremely important, especially in an industry with such a high turnover rate.
Look for a Reputable, Family-Oriented Trucking Company
There are other reasons drivers jump ship, such as looking for better equipment, but at the end of the day, you want to work for a reputable, honest, and family-oriented trucking company.
There are so many “big dogs” out there that could care less about each individual driver. To them, you’re just a number, and that can cause many of the issues we outlined.
By asking important questions upon hire and making sure everyone is on the same page, you can save yourself a lot of heartache.
Working for the same trucking company not only makes your life less complicated, but you’ll finally be settled enough to develop relationships with your team. And that’s part of what makes trucking such a wonderful community.
While our industry has a high turnover rate, I’m hopeful that with more education and time spent looking at why, we can start to lower it.
If you run a small fleet – say less than 10 trucks – odds are you’re feeling the hit of high operating costs right now.
According to Transport Topics, the cost of operating a truck has gone up 6% to $1.69 per mile, and that was as of October 2018. That same month, the trucking industry entered into a recession (Barron’s).
While the freight market has started to come back up (about 6.1% year-over-year), it’s still really expensive to run freight. Essentially, for the past year, you’ve been paying more to make less. Ouch!
Insurance rates are hitting us hard, software and trucking tech can set you back upwards of half a million dollars, fuel discounts are only available based on massive volume… can you catch a break?
Well, yes – yes, you can. To bring your operating costs way down – and get tons of extra benefits that you and your drivers will love – consider partnering with a larger trucking company as a freight agent.
Trucking Industry Insurance Premiums Are Crazy High
If you run a small fleet of trucks, you’re likely scratching your head right now at the sky-high insurance rates we’re all facing. It’s not just you.
According to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the cost of insurance is the single largest operating cost increase in trucking. In fact, insurance costs have been jumping double-digits since 2013, and today, the costs are debilitating.
Last year at Freight X, we were paying less than $7,000 per truck, and this year, it’s over $11,000 per truck. We attended McLeod’s Annual User Conference and talked to another gentleman who reported that last year, he was paying $8,000 per truck, and this year it’s upwards of $15,000 per truck.
The worst report we got was from another owner-operator who found us and shared he was paying $10,000 for his truck last year. This year? Nearly $26,000. That’s enough to make you question whether or not you can continue in this profession.
If you’re in Florida, you’re experiencing the highest insurance rate hits in the country.
Why Are Insurance Premiums So Expensive?
California started the trend of very high settlements a few years back, and Texas soon followed. Insurance companies started raising rates hard in these states, and Florida has now followed suit. Lawsuit, that is.
If you live in Florida, you’ve likely noticed this personally. It seems like every other commercial out there is asking, “Were you hurt by a trucking company?” or “Have you or someone you loved been hit by a truck?”
Contrary to popular beliefs about more expensive tractor-trailer rigs, the real reason trucking insurance rates have gone up so high is because of lawsuits.
Insurance carriers have explained to us that they’re paying out more than they’re collecting in premiums. Liability is the most expensive part of the insurance – totaling your tractor doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
An insurance company could care less about a $50,000 truck when they’re awarding $2 million here, there, and everywhere because someone hurt their back in a trucking accident.
People aren’t being hurt more than they were 10 years ago – it’s a trend right now of outrageous settlements, and it’s not slowing down.
To lower your insurance costs per truck, consider becoming a freight agent. The more trucks you have, the lower your insurance rates can generally be. Insurance companies like bigger pools of trucks, because it spreads out the risk, but if you only have a few trucks, you’re not getting that benefit.
By becoming an agent for a trucking company, you instantly get access to their lower insurance premiums.
If you’re paying more than $11,000 per truck, I’d encourage you to consider becoming an agent for us at Freight X. There are a lot more benefits that we’ll explain as we continue, but we’d love to share our insurance rates with smaller fleets.
Truck Maintenance Costs Are Rising
In general, truck maintenance is costing more than ever – from the cost of the truck equipment itself to the cost of maintaining it.
Back in the day of the Detroit Series 60s, anyone with good diesel experience could work on it. There was no computer, no after treatment systems, no high-tech things on tractors.
Today’s after treatment systems and sensors cost a lot more to fix than they used to. Beyond just the parts, you have to have specialized knowledge – basic diesel experience isn’t enough anymore, and that labor is more expensive.
A lot of companies won’t sign on older equipment, so it forces drivers into newer, more expensive units. Not that this is a bad thing – it’s just the reality. If you want new tractors, all the technology that goes into that is simply going to cost more to fix.
For owner ops and agents here at Freight X, we do our best to soften the blow of rising maintenance costs by using our own mechanics in our shop.
Our in-house mechanics are available at a discounted rate. We’re nothing like an outside shop.
Our mechanics don’t get paid based on how much they bill. Their goal is to get you serviced, repaired, and back on the road as quickly as possible.
Trucking Software and Tech Is Really Expensive
If you run a small fleet, there’s no way you’re going to be able to implement expensive trucking software systems.
It’s just too costly unless you’ve scaled up enough to warrant the massive expense. The problem is that you can’t run a trucking company on paper anymore. You need state of the art technology. We offer McLeod Software – you just can’t get any better than that.
There are cheaper systems out there, but you get what you pay for.
In addition to operations software solutions to manage the business, you have trucking tech expenses like:
Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
As you know, ELDs are now mandated to replace paper logs, so you can’t hide from that expense. In addition, most customers require EDI nowadays.
The costs add up quickly, and because we have all of this software and tech in place at Freight X, we’re actually able to attract and maintain bigger customers because of it.
By becoming an agent for a trucking company that has all of this trucking software and technology in place, you’ll not only save hundreds of thousands of dollars – or more, butyou’ll be able to finally access those better-paying, more reliable, and larger customers.
According to extensive research completed by the American Transportation Research Institute, fuel costs about $14.50 per hour, or just under 40 cents per mile. Besides driver wages, fuel is the most expensive part of running freight.
Fuel alone accounts for 22% of a carrier’s costs as of 2017, so if we can get the cost of fuel down – even by a few cents per gallon – you’re going to see a massive change in profits and losses.
The problem is that fuel discounts are based on volume.
If you pay retail at the pump, or even retail minus a few cents, you will love our incredible fuel discount! We have a great deal with Pilot/Flying J, and we’re able to secure the deep discounts we have based on how much fuel we buy – and that’s around 2,500 gallons per day!
Small companies don’t do that kind of volume in a week, let alone in a day, and thus they can’t get the discounts we can get. That’s why it can pay off to become an agent for a company that does more fuel volume.
Fueling Location Optimization
Another thing to consider when it comes to fuel costs is where the fuel is actually the cheapest. Here at Freight X, we do something called fueling location optimization, which is based on routes.
In a nutshell, this just means that the price at the pump doesn’t tell the whole story! Just because you see the cheapest price at the pump doesn’t actually mean it’s going to be the cheapest.
There’s a lot that goes into it, but being able to choose the cheapest fuel is more complicated than it seems, and becoming an agent for a company that takes this into account is going to be a huge cost savings!
Become An Agent to Save on High Trucking Operating Costs
If you run a few trucks, you already know how expensive operational costs can be. From high insurance premiums to software to fuel to maintenance costs, it’s very costly to run a small fleet.
By becoming an agent for a larger company, you’re giving you and your drivers access to better prices and opportunities. Here at Freight X, we can save you money in all areas of your business because of the infrastructure we’ve built.
Beyond cost savings, it really pays to become an agent!
Here are some of the extra benefits that we offer for becoming an agent at Freight X – check with the company you’re talking with to see if they offer these perks as well:
More drop and hook opportunities
Greater trailer pools
Direct deposit of weekly commission
Quick pay options available
Access to database of over 1,000 customers
Free subscription to DAT and Truckstop (load posting and matching boards)
Financial strength and excellent credit rating
Accounts receivable and payable processing
Computer and technical support including company computers
Mobile access to our TMS
McLeod software – complimentary
Positive cashflow – we’re a growing company!
Dispatch and load planning services with decades of experience
Fueling location optimization based on routes
We’ll file your IFTA
ELD is provided
ELD monitoring to ensure safe driving habits
Tips and tactics given to drivers to avoid unsafe situations
Quarterly safety meetings
We do a lot, because our agents do a lot!
As an agent, safety is a huge concern – you want to make sure your drivers are driving safely so that they can make it back to their families safely. Ideally, you want the company you partner with to coach your drivers on how to be safe and to monitor their driving habits.
At Freight X, we see the current risks and the environment that drivers have to drive in, so we provide what they need to make sure they avoid risks and stay safe. We provide tips and tactics to drivers to avoid unsafe situations.
We’re all a family at Freight X, and our goal is to get all of drivers home safe at the end of their run.
Becoming a freight agent at Freight X allows you to do what you do best, RUNNING YOUR TRUCKS!
Without truck drivers, there wouldn’t be a supermarket with Chilean seabass and Alaskan crab. Without truck drivers, there wouldn’t be the perfectly wrapped packages of Barbies and Hot Wheels under the tree. Without truck drivers, there wouldn’t be life-saving medical supplies delivered in times of need.
Truckers are truly our everyday heroes without capes.
Truck drivers are the nameless, faceless workers that keep the United States of America going. That’s why it’s such a shame that truckers have been given a negative reputation.
These everyday heroes that keep our country up and running have suffered over the last few decades by negative connotations and bad press. First of all, why do truck drivers have a bad reputation, and secondly, what can we do to fix it?
Why Do Truck Drivers have a Bad Reputation?
Several decades ago, truck drivers were thought of as “good ole’ American boys” – the western image of a hard-working man exploring our vast country came to mind.
Today, truck drivers are thought of as criminals, druggies, and low lives – and the majority of truckers are quite the opposite. Where did this negative imagery come from?
Sex Trafficking and “Lot Lizards”
Truck stops have become hot spots for sex trafficking. The remoteness of truck stops along with the “transient” customer base has made these locations perfect for traffickers seeking to profit from victims (National Human Trafficking Hotline).
The trafficking is generally advertised through CB radio, used by truckers.
The victims, or girls who are forced to be in the sex trade, are known as “Lot Lizards” in the trucking community (Shared Hope International).
While there’s an unfortunate group of truck drivers who participate in this vile crime, there are more truckers who are fighting to stop it and bring justice for these young women.
TheNew York Timesreports that truckers, often seen only as potential customers, are now using their closeness to the sex trafficking to help the victims.
Drugs to Stay Awake
Reuters reported on a study completed in October 2013 where about 3% of drivers admitted to using cocaine while driving. This study was not just of the United States – it covered many other countries like Thailand, Brazil, and Norway.
It is said that cocaine can help drivers get through a shift, helping them stay on the road longer, which ultimately helps them make more money.
In any industry, you’ll have the select few that try to get ahead in any way they can. Take college students, for example, who take Adderall to stay up all night and study (Futurity.org).
Even though truck drivers are required to pass drug testing in order to be on the road, the general population hears stories of Meth-LSD-coke addicts on the road, and these select few put a bad name on the rest of the honest drivers.
There are dozens of stories of truck drivers being convicted of or being accused of being serial killers. From Bruce Mendenhall in 2018 to Samual Legg in 2019, it seems that every time you turn around, a new story emerges of a trucker on a killing spree.
The FBI concluded that the trucking profession is a convenient one for serial killers, who can easily pick up victims and throw them out along their long-haul journey to another state.
Because trucking is so convenient for killers, it attracts them, and this sheds a negative light on the rest of the hard-working truckers who are trying to make an honest living.
Disrespectful Driving Habits and Accidents
While sex trafficking, drug use, and serial killers have all shed a negative light on the trucking industry, many truckers have adopted disrespectful driving habits that everyday people experience for themselves.
Whether it’s cutting off a car to switch lanes, speeding up and slowing down, or swerving in and out of your lane, driving without being mindful of the cars around you gives all truckers a negative reputation.
Beyond disrespectful driving habits, accidents also play a huge part in the public perception.
Every 15 minutes, a person is seriously injured or even killed by an accident caused by tractor-trailers.
Many large trucking companies have truck driving training program, and after truckers finish, they are generally employed immediately. This is a large percentage of truck drivers with little to no professional driving experience, and this accounts for many of the accidents.
Negative Appearance and Manners
When many think of a truck driver, they have an image of a driver they saw at a gas station once. Many conjure up ideas of a smelly, overweight trucker with a potty mouth.
It’s easy to figure out where this public perception comes from – taking care of yourself while being out on the road for extended periods of time is difficult. Plus, some truckers spend much of their day chatting with other trucks over the CB system.
You put a group of men together for an extended period of time, and it’s not hard to imagine the potential topics of conversation.
In fact, Urban Dictionary even has a definition for “Trucker Mouth,” which is defined as “A person who uses foul language.”
It’s similar to the old saying “curse like a sailor,” which came about because sailors often resorted to swearing and spending money as ways to compensate for long days and monotonous time aboard a ship.
In sum, it’s easy to let yourself go and lose some respect for yourself when it requires more effort to do the opposite.
Trucking As a Skilled Profession
Finally, the public perception of truck drivers has fueled a terrible cycle. If becoming a truck driver is looked down upon in our society as a low-class career, what type of people do you think it will attract? You guessed it – the wrong people.
Many people think trucking isn’t a skilled profession, because it doesn’t require a high level of education. However, trucking does require a specific set of skills, and not everyone has them.
Drivers must be knowledgable in mechanics, they must be able to drive in concerning conditions, they must be a skilled driver to navigate difficult situations, and they must be able to tackle tough situations like hooking and unhooking a trailer in 20-degree weather… in the dark.
It’s a shame that truck driving is looked at as a “less-than” profession when some of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg were college dropouts.
Why Should Truck Drivers Work to Improve Their Reputation?
If you’re a trucker who is feeling discouraged at this point, all is not lost. Even though there’s a bad reputation out there, there are reasons to improve it – and know this: your reputation can be fixed.
More Positive Attitude Among Everyday Civilians
It’s no secret that there is excessive litigation in the trucking industry. In fact, a 2018 Florida Justice Reform Institute Report estimated that Florida loses more than 126,000 jobs each year due to too many lawsuits.
Part of the hostility of everyday civilians seems to be the “they need to pay!” and “let’s go after them!” mentality. This mentality is fueled (no pun intended) by this negative perception of truckers.
It may be a stretch to say this, but it’s possible that a more positive attitude towards truckers might actually have an effect on the litigation trends.
Take soldiers, for example. If a soldier does something wrong, the kneejerk reaction is, “Well, but they served our country” – not “let’s go after them!”
If we could change the perception of truckers, it’s possible that the desire to slap truckers with a lawsuit at every turn would subside.
Better Insurance Rates
To keep that thought going, if lawsuits started to decline, insurance rates might actually be affordable!
If you’re a truck driver, you probably realize that today, insurance rates are at a staggering all-time high. In fact, insurance rates for owner operators can range from $10,000 to upwards of $15,000 per year.
David Owen, President of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies shared with Overdrive Online, “Ambulance-chasing lawyers are sucking the blood out of trucking. They’re taking absolutely frivolous lawsuits and running into settlements because of the system. It’s cheaper to pay the fraudulent claim than to fight it.”
More Interest In the Trucking Profession
If trucking was looked at as the important, respectful career choice that we believe it is, there would be more respect for this profession. That means there would be younger individuals looking to become drivers – and perhaps women would come on board, too.
The average age of truck drivers is 49 – many are retiring, and no one new is coming up to fill their place
There is a very low percentage of women truck drivers – women account for only 5.8% of all truck drivers
The American Trucking Association says that currently, the trucking industry as a whole is about 48,000 drivers short of what is needed (latest numbers as of 2015). That number is expected to grow to nearly 175,000 by 2024.
More Respect For You And Your Career Choice
An obvious benefit to a better public perception of truck drivers is more people would respect and appreciate your career choice.
The days of people trying to slam on their breaks in front of truckers might finally be gone. The days of raised eyebrows and concerning looks when you announce your truck driving profession would be over.
Instead, people would congratulate you on your new endeavor and thank you for providing such a valuable service to this country.
How to Fix the Negative Reputation of Truckers
So, there is a negative reputation of truck drivers, and there is plenty of reason to try to restore it. But… how?
Improve Your Own Attitude About Trucking
How can we ask others to respect trucking as a profession if we don’t respect it ourselves?
If you see your career as an important part of this country’s economy, you can start to develop a pride for it. And when you really care about your career choice, your attitude – and your outward behavior – starts to change.
For example, perhaps you’d start to dress a bit nicer. While you do have the option to drive in sweatpants and a hoodie, a driver who covets his job will choose to show up for work in slacks and a polo.
That outward appearance might seem small, but it immediately starts to change the public perception of what it means to be a truck driver.
Put Effort Into Your Public Image
Improving your attitude and taking pride in your trucking job does transfer over to your appearance as we mentioned above.
However, going a step further and keeping top-notch personal hygiene and even speaking more professionally can have a big impact.
We have drivers who show up every single day wearing professional clothing, smelling fresh and clean, and speaking respectfully to customers. Those customers start to request these drivers by name, which not only makes drivers feel important – which they are – but it’s job security and even better rates.
When you can show the public that you’re just as important as that fancy-dressing doctor or lawyer, your reputation starts to change.
Focusing on DOT Violations
Not getting DOT violations allows you to work with some of the best trucking companies in the country, and those companies have you and the industry’s best interest in mind.
At Freight X, we like to think we are one of those companies. We won’t put a driver on the road that we don’t feel is safe.
One of those indications is how well he takes care of his equipment and how safe he drives.
You spend a lot of miles on the road, and being a safe driver not only protects your life, but it protects your livelihood and the perception of truckers in America.
Drive Courtesouly On the Road
The devil is in the details. By being a courteous driver and putting safety and respect first, the general public will start to shift their opinions about the trucking industry.
For example, instead of trying to pass a truck that’s going 1 mph slower than you – and causing a big buildup of traffic behind you – respect the other drivers and wait to pass until the traffic dies down.
It’s the little things that people notice, and when you make an effort to drive more courteously, it not only affects you, but it affects the reputation of all drivers.
Truckers Are Important!
Truck drivers are part of the foundation of this country.
Truck drivers deliver goods during times of crisis. They deliver Christmas gifts to families. They make sure those in need get life-saving drugs and medical equipment. They supply us with everyday items for our survival.
Truck drivers trudge through terrible weather conditions to keep the economy going, all while sacrificing family time to provide for the ones they love.
Truckers truly are our nameless, faceless everyday heroes. Thank you to all of our drivers here at Freight X, and I hope this inspires you to come together and make an effort to fix the reputation of truck drivers across our country.
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.