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5 Key Reasons Truck Drivers Switch Trucking Companies

5 Key Reasons Truck Drivers Switch Trucking Companies

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.

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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:

  1. Drivers aren’t happy with their dispatchers.
  2. Drivers are looking for higher pay somewhere else.
  3. Drivers are looking to run more miles.
  4. Drivers aren’t getting enough home time.
  5. 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:

  1. Higher pay, but for fewer miles
  2. 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:

  1. Pay you a percentage of the total load
  2. 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! 

Read more7 Ways to Avoid Getting Screwed Over on a Lease Purchase Agreement

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. 

Conclusion

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.

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

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

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.

[Related: Truck Drivers Have a Bad Reputation: Here’s How to Fix It]

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)
  • Cameras
  • Billing software
  • 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, but you’ll be able to finally access those better-paying, more reliable, and larger customers.

Our agents here at Freight X have that luxury.

Fuel Discounts Are Essential

When looking at ways to save money in trucking, all eyes turn to fuel. The overall fuel economy of a new truck model is about 6.5 MPG (American Transportation Research Institute).

Reported fuel economy of survey respondents compared to typical operating weight

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.

Share of total average marginal costs between 2009-2017

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:

  1. More drop and hook opportunities
  2. Greater trailer pools
  3. Bigger customers
  4. Direct deposit of weekly commission
  5. Quick pay options available
  6. Access to database of over 1,000 customers
  7. Free subscription to DAT and Truckstop (load posting and matching boards)
  8. National recognition
  9. Financial strength and excellent credit rating
  10. Accounts receivable and payable processing
  11. Computer and technical support including company computers
  12. Mobile access to our TMS
  13. Factoring agreement
  14. McLeod software – complimentary
  15. Positive cashflow – we’re a growing company!
  16. Maintenance mechanics
  17. Maintenance software
  18. Dispatch and load planning services with decades of experience
  19. Fueling location optimization based on routes
  20. We’ll file your IFTA
  21. ELD is provided
  22. ELD monitoring to ensure safe driving habits
  23. Tips and tactics given to drivers to avoid unsafe situations
  24. 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.

Conclusion

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!

Truck Drivers Have a Bad Reputation: Here’s How to Fix It

Truck Drivers Have a Bad Reputation: Here’s How to Fix It

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 remoteness of truck stops along with the “transient” customer base has made these locations perfect for traffickers seeking to profit from victims.

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. 

The New York Times reports 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.

Serial Killers

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

It’s possible that a more positive attitude towards truckers might actually have an effect on the litigation trends.

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.

In our recent article 13 Reasons Why You Should Become a Truck Driver, we explained a few shocking statistics about the trucking industry:

  • 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.

By being a courteous driver and putting safety and respect first, the general public will start to shift their opinions about the trucking industry.

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.

Become a Truck Driver at Freight X
How Truck Drivers Can Prepare for the 2019 International Roadcheck Safety Blitz

How Truck Drivers Can Prepare for the 2019 International Roadcheck Safety Blitz

From June 4-6, 2019, truck drivers across the country will be subject to the 2019 Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) International Roadcheck, which is commonly referred to as the safety blitz.

Each year, the CVSA publishes the focus of the blitz, and this year, it’s all about steering and suspension. The goal of this 72-hour annual campaign is to make sure that drivers are being safe and that the road is as safe as it can be.

The CVSA safety blitz is international, and when you look at the amount of trucks that get stopped, it’s between 17-25 inspections per minute!

As a professional truck driver, what do you need to know in order to be prepared for this 2019 inspection blitz?

Preparing for the Steering and Suspension Checks

The focus of the world of drivers needs to be on the steering and suspension.

When you do your Device Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR), you’re looking at your equipment and inspecting it thoroughly.

If you notice anything – whether it’s in preparation for the 2019 safety blitz or otherwise – be sure you get it fixed before you go back on the road.

Remember that you don’t have to be a mechanic to spot an issue with steering, suspension, or anything else on your truck. Sure, you may not know how to fix it, but you can tell if something isn’t right.

Keep in mind that it’s the same for DOT officers. They aren’t mechanics, either, but they can still tell when something needs to be repaired.

When you do your inspections, it’s just like inspecting your own car, but on steroids.

You should be inspecting your truck every single day – this is your job and we hope you take pride in it! Plus, you are required to do a pre-trip and post-trip inspection.

If you have any doubt about the safety of your truck, you are encouraged to visit the Freight X shop and have one of our mechanics look at it!

Finally, we hold Quarterly Safety Meetings (awesome food, free swag, and raffle prizes are included!), so be sure to follow our Facebook page for announcements on dates. You don’t want to miss those!

Drivers Need to Be Prepared With 8 Days of Clear Logs

While the steering and suspension is the focus of this International Roadcheck, you better believe that your logs will be inspected if you’re pulled aside by a DOT officer.

By law, the DOT officer is allowed to view the last 8 days of your logs. Since this safety blitz is June 4-6, 2019, your logs must be perfectly clear beginning on May 27, 2019 (Memorial Day).

We hate to sound unnecessarily harsh, but if you can’t produce 8 days of clear logs, you shouldn’t be on the road as a professional driver.

While there’s no guarantee that you’ll be pulled over, there is a much higher amount of trucks that will be pulled over during the blitz, so you ought to be prepared. It is recommended that you stay off the road if you have any issues with logs between May 27, 2019 and June 6, 2019.

Tips On Preparing Your Logs and ELD System

These tips apply to this annual safety blitz, but they’re also good to follow all the time, of course!

1. Never hand the DOT officer/inspector your phone.

We definitely mean well, but that DOT officer is not your friend! When you hand them your phone, you’re giving them the opportunity to look through anything.

Instead, you want to send them an inspection report, which supplies the things that are legally required. Basically, you don’t want them to give them anything you don’t have to.

Think about it: if you’re being questioned for a crime, you don’t offer up anything extra. The same thing applies here. Even if everything is 100% perfect and you know that, you’re only going to give what you’re legally required to give.

2. Be sure to have the roadside transfer of logs document.

At Freight X, we use Transflo, and all of our drivers need to know how to operate that Electronics Logs Device (ELD). However, the officer doesn’t!

Keep in mind that there are over 400 approved ELDs – the officer isn’t going to be an expert at every one! However, he will know how to look at the logs, so as a driver you need to know how to operate the logs and your device so you can get the officer what he needs.

That’s why you need the roadside transfer of logs – it’s a 1-page document that shows the officer how the system operates and how to get access to the logs. Generally, you can transfer by email, by website, or your device can be put in inspection mode.

3. Use proper annotations when you stop!

When you stop for fuel, the logs require that you annotate that stop and say why you were stopping. If you stop for fuel, your logs should say fuel stop. If you’re getting unloaded, it should say so. There is not a requirement for on-duty activities, but they are nice to have and good drivers do it, though it is not required.

Our ELD system requires you to put annotations in, but some drivers just type in random letters to get it over with quickly. Don’t do that! It takes no time or effort to put in proper annotations. If an officer sees a bunch of mumbo jumbo on your logs, he will look deeper into them and you’re now susceptible to a violation.

4. Have paper logs prepared as a backup.

According to regulations, you are required to have paper logs in case your device stops working. Essentially, the DOT wants to ensure you have a backup plan. While there’s definitely logic to it, there’s certainly a lot of pushback on that, so I anticipate the regulations to change a bit here in the future.

However, they haven’t yet, so be sure you have paper logs with you, especially during the blitz!

5. Be overly prepared so that you don’t run into state-specific issues.

Every state has different regulations and requirements about what you need to have in your cab. One state might say your CDL is enough, which another might require your CDL and medical card. No matter what state you’re in, you may not know what those DOT officers are trained to ask for.

Be overprepared so that you’re ready for every situation. You want to have all of the potential documents you’ll need, and just in case, we’ve prepared a list of those for you.

Documents You Should Have In Your Cab | Preparing for the Safety Blitz

Part of every inspection is looking at paperwork. So, even though this safety blitz is focused on steering and suspension, you still need all your paperwork to be in order.

The more orderly the information is, the easier it is for everyone, and the faster you can get out of there and get back on the road.

You’re better off having more than you need – and in an organized fashion!

Here’s a quick list of everything you should have with you before you head out for the open road. Please note that there is not a list provided directly from FMCSA – you have to grab it from the different areas of the regulation, and they are all subject to interpretation. However, I put together this list myself to assist drivers.

Driver

  • CDL
  • Medical Card

CARRIER:

  • MC Authority
  • IFTA certificate
  • MCS-90 form

TRACTOR:

  • CAB Card
  • Insurance
  • AVI truck
  • Lease agreement

TRAILER:

  • AVI trailer
  • Trailer Registration

ELD/LOGS:

  • ELD card
  • 8-day Backup logs & Inspection reports
  • Required Documents

How long is a DOT inspection?

The average DOT inspection is dependent on how prepared you are as a driver. The more prepared you are, the faster it’ll go.

Some inspections – if you have everything in order – can be completed in as little as 10 minutes. On the other hand, it can take 30 minutes to an hour if you’re not prepared.

The emphasis this year is a Level 1 inspection (there are 8 levels total), and that is actually the most thorough inspection you can have. The DOT inspector will test the driver, look at the logs, look at the CAB books, ensure that the driver has all documentation, they walk around the truck, the trailer, and they go underneath the carriage.

That can understandably take some time, but if you’re prepared, you won’t be sitting there for too long!

Where do the safety blitz inspections happen?

Most of the inspections during the 2019 safety blitz will happen at weigh stations. However, they can do it roadside as well.

There you have it – we hope this helps you feel confident for this year’s 2019 safety blitz! If you need any additional assistance, don’t hesitate to contact your dispatcher, myself, or anyone on the Freight X team. Thank you for your hard work and dedication!

By Pat Cook

Related content:

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

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

In order to get started as an owner operator, the first step is to buy your own truck. However, that’s easier said than done. A lot of times, dealerships won’t offer financing – even if you have perfect credit. That means you can’t get a loan on a truck, so your only option is to pay cash for it.

Do you have $50,000+ in cash sitting around? Not many do.

That’s why many drivers turn to their trucking company for a lease-purchase opportunity. You’re still an owner operator – you’re just leasing your truck until you complete the payments and it’s yours.

I’ve structured the lease purchase contract here at Freight X, and I’ve done enough of these deals to hear about what other companies are doing.

It seems to me that many trucking companies are ripping off truckers who don’t understand some of the contract details. That leaves a lot of truckers with a bad taste in their mouth, and just hearing the words “lease purchase program” turns them off.

In order to save you from getting burned by a bad lease-purchase agreement, I’ve come up with 7 of the most common things you should avoid in a lease-purchase contract.

Of course, we’d love to strike a deal with you if you’re looking to become an owner operator, but no matter who you go with, I want to make sure you’re not getting screwed over.

Interested in owning your own truck? Learn more about lease purchasing at Freight X →

1. Run away from balloon payments at the end of the contract.

Some lease purchase agreements have what’s called a balloon payment that’s due at the end of the contract period. This recently happened with a driver who came to us in the middle of their lease-purchase contract with another company.

Some lease purchase agreements have what’s called a balloon payment that’s due at the end of the contract period. Avoid this, or at least make sure it’s a reasonable amount that you could actually afford.

He was paying around $600 per week for nearly 5 years, and the final balloon payment was $50,000 at the end. That makes absolutely no sense – that truck isn’t even worth $50,000! Luckily, his maintenance account had $25,000 in it, and they let him use that balance towards the balloon payment. He came up with the other $25,000.

Most people aren’t in his position and wouldn’t be able to afford that. If that were the case, the company would send you into another lease, and it just goes on and on. You’d never end up actually owning a truck!

At Freight X, we have no balloon payment. If the company you’re talking to has a balloon payment, it better be something reasonable that you think you could come up with.

2. Make sure the maintenance account doesn’t have too many restrictions.

What’s the maintenance account going to look like? We hold between 12-20 cents per loaded mile and put it into a maintenance account for you. It’s your money, but we hold it there until the lease agreement is over so that you have money available to make necessary repairs.

And that makes a lot of sense. Think about that ­– if I was driving your car, you’d want to hold something back to fix it. For example, in a worst-case scenario, you could walk away from it or the car could break down and you may not have the money saved to fix it.

Once you own your truck, it’s entirely up to you whether you want to keep the maintenance account going or not. Smart owner operators still do a maintenance account because they know they won’t save that money on their own. They save 10-12 cents per mile until there’s a good chunk in there, and then we’ll pause it for some time until it’s needed again.

You may not have a credit card or the cash to fix an issue in the middle of the night if you break down, so that maintenance account is a little insurance for you. I encourage it, but it’s not mandatory once you own your truck.

So, when you’re in your lease-purchase agreement, I let you use that maintenance money for any repairs on the truck – other places have way more restrictions on that.

When you’re in your lease-purchase agreement, I let you use that maintenance money for any repairs on the truck – other places have way more restrictions on that. Make sure you understand that maintenance account before signing!

For example, here are some questions you want to ask about the maintenance account while you’re in the lease purchase contract:

  • Am I allowed to use the money in the maintenance account to pay off the balance of my truck?
  • Once I pay off the truck, is it mandatory to have a maintenance account or is it my choice?
  • Do I have to get maintenance done at the company shop, or can I get it done anywhere I want to?

Some guys say, “What if my maintenance account gets too big?”

I say it can’t get too big, because if you end up with more money in your account then you owe me for the truck, we just sign the truck over and it’s yours.

3. Make sure you have the freedom to go to any shop to get maintenance done.

At Freight X, you don’t have to get your truck maintenance done at our shop. However, it can be advantageous to you to do so, and here’s why.

If you take your truck to an outside shop, their goal is to make sure they charge you for everything you may possibly need. Their job is to make money fixing your truck.

At our shop, our job is to get you back on the road as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible. It doesn’t mean we sacrifice quality or safety – things that are necessary have to be done ­– but our goals are aligned.

In a dealership, they’ll go, “Well, it’s not re-genning, so you’ll need a new DPF filter, a DOC, possibly your doser isn’t working… and then we’ll need to run it through a re-gen to see if that fixes your problem.”

That right there is an $8,000-$10,000 bill.

At our shop, our job is to get you back on the road as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible. It doesn’t mean we sacrifice quality or safety – things that are necessary have to be done ­– but our goals are aligned.

We would attempt to run it through a re-gen and see if there were any codes that came up during that process. We’d investigate those codes, and try to determine what the actual source of the issue is. It could be a wiring issue, a sensor not reading correctly… it could be a simple $1 fix. Either way, we’ll solve the root of the problem.

In defense of the dealerships, they’re going to throw parts at the problem hoping that they’ve hit the real problem with one of them. They don’t want you to come back to their shop and have them rework something because it isn’t fixed. I can’t say that’s totally true, but that’s what I’d say in defense of them. Maybe they aren’t all crooked, so that’s a possible explanation.

In any case, if you come to our shop, we have your best interest in mind, and we also charge a lot less per hour than outside dealerships. We charge $80 per hour whereas outside dealerships charge anywhere from $110-$130 per hour.

No mechanics are perfect. We all know that. Sometimes, you just don’t know. Your truck acts funky on the road, but when you bring it in, it stops acting funky. It just happens. But we have a higher success rate than outside dealerships – that’s for certain.

Another thing to take into consideration is that we’re just easier to work with. Here’s an example.

I had a truck the other day where the blend door wasn’t operating correctly. We tested the controller and found that it was likely the problem. We replaced it, and it didn’t fix the problem. Turns out it was the blend door actuator, which was a much more expensive fix. I didn’t charge the owner operator for the controller in that scenario.

I’ll stand behind that and say, “Well, we tried to fix the cheaper thing first and it didn’t work.” An outside dealership would charge you for both.

In any case, if our shop was terrible, I would want the option to go somewhere else. So that’s the case in our lease purchase agreement. I think our shop is awesome, but you do have the freedom to go anywhere you want.

You don’t want to be limited to the company’s shop, especially if it’s not great.

4. Ask if you’re allowed to pay the truck off early.

Are you allowed to pay the truck off early? We have a clause in our contract where after half the payments, you’re more than welcome to pay the truck off early.

Other places require you to stay with them the whole time.

Paying off your truck early allows you to save on interest.

We have a clause in our contract where after half the payments, you’re more than welcome to pay the truck off early.

Additionally, if the company’s not treating you fairly, not giving you loads, or not keeping you working, you might want to pay off the truck and go somewhere else.

If I was an owner operator, I’d be asking a ton of questions and would be a bit apprehensive because of how many drivers have come into my office with a bad history of lease purchase programs. They come in and say either they’ve had a terrible experience, or a friend has.

The general consensus is that whenever you get close to paying off your truck, they stop giving you loads. We obviously don’t do that, but some places do.

I’m not in the business of leasing trucks. I’m in the business of running freight. I have 3 choices when it comes to a truck – I can sell it, trade it in, or lease it to someone and give them a start at their own business. It makes me feel good to play a part in that and have a new business partner. So why would I stop running freight when that’s my primary goal here?

At the end of the day, you don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you’re stuck not making money, so just make sure you have the option to pay it off early.

5. Don’t go for really long leases.

Some drivers like a higher payment so that they can be done with it sooner, while others prefer a lower payment to help with cashflow. We’re flexible and are proud of it!

Like I mentioned before, one of our drivers came to us from another company on a 5-year lease. In my opinion, that’s just too long to be leasing a truck. You want to actually own it at some point!

We structure our lease-purchase contracts to be between 2-3.5 years long depending on what you want your weekly payment to be.

A typical weekly payment is $400-$500 per week, which just depends on the value of the truck. However, we can play around with the length of the contract to get that payment where it needs to be for you.

Some drivers like a higher payment so that they can be done with it sooner, while others prefer a lower payment to help with cashflow. We’re flexible and are proud of it!

6. Some companies pay you a smaller percentage if you’re leasing a truck.

I’ve heard that a lot of companies pay a smaller percentage of the load to a lease-purchase driver versus an owner operator. We don’t feel that’s right.

You’re doing the same amount of work, you have the same maintenance, the same costs… we pay lease-purchase drivers the same percentage we pay owner operators. The only difference is you have a truck payment to make.

7. Don’t overpay for the truck!

This may sound obvious, but I see it all the time and it’s absolutely shocking to me: the purchase price of the truck ought to closely match the market value of the truck.

I’ve seen a driver sign a lease agreement for a 2013 Freightliner for $120,000. It should’ve been $50,000-$60,000.

Obviously, the price will depend on the condition, the mileage, is it automatic or standard, does it have an APU… but anything that’s exorbitantly high like that is a bad deal!

Let’s put it this way: a stripped down 2019, brand new, 0 miles… you could buy that for $120,000, you know?

We are extremely reasonable. For example, we just bought a truck for $72,000 and lease purchased it for $72,000. Apparently, that’s unheard of, but not here at Freight X.

And don’t forget that there’s no credit check – we just give you the keys, you sign the lease agreement, and you start driving. A dealership isn’t going to do that.

At the end of the day, our goal at Freight X is to be business partners with you. That’s why we are so fair and transparent with our lease purchase agreements, and we want to ensure you’re as successful as you can be.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to leave a comment below if you have any experience lease-purchasing trucks!