This year, the Pride and Polish event is all virtual, and Overdrive Magazine is still taking entries for the 2021 photo competition. You can enter your photos by June 3 (no fees to enter!).
What is Overdrive?
Overdrive was launched in September 1961 by Mike Parkhurst. He was its vocal editor and publisher until its sale to its current owner, Randall Publishing Co. (now Randall-Reilly), in 1986.
During the 25 years he published Overdrive, Parkhurst championed the rights of owner operators to work freely amid a complex web of Teamster pressures and over-regulation.
Throughout its early history, Overdrive called for protests over fuel prices and anti-trucking legislation. Those conflicts, notably during the late 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, eventually led to deregulation in the early 1990s and today’s climate in which the self-employed contractor can operate with much greater independence.
Today’s trucking industry owes a lot to Overdrive!
What is Pride and Polish?
Pride and Polish events, produced by Overdrive Magazine, are the gold standard of truck shows. They provide an opportunity for camaraderie amongst drivers and their families in the trucking industry.
Pride and polish launched in 1990 at MATS in Louisville, KY. In 1999, Pride and Polish was added to GATS in Dallas, TX. Pride and Polish is open to company drivers and owner operators.
This year, due to the cancellation of in-person events, the GATS Pride and Polish show will be held virtually.
After many, many years of being in the trucking industry, I dare say I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen loyal drivers that go above and beyond to provide for their families and support other drivers. But I’ve also seen drivers make catastrophic mistakes without realizing the consequences.
Here at Freight X, we have some of the most desirable lanes in the industry – numerous drop-and-hook customers out of Florida, lanes that have you home every night, and over-the-road opportunities throughout the southeast with very competitive pay options. Plus, when you call us, we know you by name – not a number. Why in the world would you give that up?
While we have some of the most loyal, hard-working, smart guys and gals working here, there are always a few that seem to give truckers a bad name. And they ruin their career – and life – in the process.
From lying on the application to refusing a drug test, here are 12 things truck drivers can do to ruin their driving careers.
1. Lying On Your Application
This is by far the most common stupid thing drivers do. We will find out what you did at your last job and why you got fired if you did get fired.
If you have an accident, speeding violations… we will find out! And if that’s not on your application, we’re not going to hire you. There’s so much documentation available, and drivers will continue to lie even when we show them the DOT documents… it’s just a waste of your time to lie.
Just be honest! We give drivers the benefit of the doubt, but when you begin the relationship by lying, we will never trust you and thus, we can’t hire you.
2. Drinking and Driving
This one is pretty obvious – when you’re caught drinking and driving, you lose your license and your driving job. In fact, it’ll be at least over a year before anyone will consider hiring you again. And the desirable trucking companies may never hire you again with that kind of infringement on your record.
States have different regulations, but many states lower the drinking limit if you have a CDL. For example, it goes from .08 to .04 – professional drivers are held to a higher standard, even if you’re not driving a commercial vehicle (FMCSA).
Consider this: after three hours of drinking, a 200-pound male would measure a 0.05% BAC after just four 12-ounce beers. I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty easy to drink four beers in three hours!
So while drinking and driving is an obvious mistake, some drivers don’t realize that having a few beers at dinner and driving home can ruin their entire driving career.
3. Doing Recreational Drugs and Refusing Drug Tests
It’s true that many states including Illinois, Michigan, and the entire western seaboard have legalized medicinal and recreational use of marijuana.
However, even though many states have legalized marijuana, it’s still not legal with the federal Department of Transportation (DOT).
Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), a person is not physically qualified to drive a CMV if he or she uses any Schedule I controlled substance such as marijuana. You can’t possess it in your truck, and you certainly can’t be under the influence. In fact, you can’t do it period – even while you’re off-duty.
Being high or having marijuana in your vehicle while driving a CMV is a DOT violation.
Truck drivers are in a safety-sensitive role – being fully present with quick reflexes is so important, especially when you’re driving a vehicle that can end someone’s life if it’s done improperly.
Unfortunately, this does happen, and don’t think you’re smart enough to get away with it. It will catch up with you, whether it’s from a dock worker who smells it and reports you or a random drug test. And when that happens, you’ve ruined your driving career.
Refusing a Drug Test
Additionally, refusing a drug test is the same as testing positive. And now, with the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, everyone will know if you refused a drug test.
We can’t stress this enough – you won’t be able to get a good driving job if you’ve refused a drug test.
Your only option is to meet with a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) who will do a face-to-face assessment, recommend a plan of treatment or education, send a report to your employer about it, monitor your progress as you do the plan, and do a final evaluation.
It’s a long – not to mention expensive – process, and even when you do it, you’ll never get a high-quality trucking job again.
And here’s where a lot of drivers ruin their careers without even realizing it – if we schedule you for a pre-employment drug test and you don’t show, many companies consider that a failed test. As you know, a no-show is the same as testing positive.
If you’re not interested in working somewhere, don’t accept a drug test and then not show up!
4. Getting In a Fight
Again, it feels like some of the things on this list are so obvious, but they’ve all happened far too many times.
Thankfully, the majority of our drivers are professionals and take the job extremely seriously. But there are always a select few, particularly at large trucking companies that accept newer drivers, that ruin the good name of drivers across the country.
As a truck driver, you’re a company’s representative in front of the customer. Getting agitated, being annoying, being mean, acting rudely to the dock workers, and getting in a fight all reflect badly on the company you work for.
Any of these, particularly getting in a physical fight, will cost you your job, and you probably won’t get any future trucking jobs with that on your DAC report.
Remember that the information on your DAC could be the difference between landing an incredible driving job that brings in six figures and never operating a CMV again.
5. Leaving on Bad Terms
Speaking of your DAC report, you never want to leave a trucking company on bad terms. If you have to part ways, do it respectfully and with dignity.
Trucking companies document when they terminate someone on your DAC report, and they put the reason they terminated you.
If you had a disagreement with your employer – and you might even be right – bring that truck back in working order, and don’t vandalize it! If you do, believe me – that will go on your DAC report.
Always try to end on good terms, even if you have to bite your tongue. Always have your future in mind. If you have a family, think of them – don’t let your pride or anger ruin the rest of your driving career just to get back at a trucking company!
6. Being Late, Oversleeping
Time management is a part of the job. If you accept a load, it’s your responsibility to be on time.
If there will be any kind of delay, you must contact dispatch and inform them.
We understand that life happens, and we’ve all overslept! But the worst thing you can do is not communicate with anyone and set the company up to fail.
Informing the customer that we’ll be late as soon as we know is the best way to maintain a great relationship. Of course, being on time every time is what we shoot for, but when the inevitable happens – you can’t stop highway accidents from happening! – having excellent communication sets us apart.
When you’re late, you’re failing on one of the most important parts of the job, and that will make you a less desirable driver to any trucking company out there.
7. Abusing Equipment
Take care of the equipment! Treat all equipment as if it’s your own.
Think of your truck as your office. Keeping your truck neat and tidy is not just a reflection on you, but it’s an FMCSA regulation not to have “things” which could become projectiles in an accident.
Failing to take care of your equipment will leave you out of a job, and it’s unlikely high-quality trucking companies will hire you with that kind of commentary on your DAC report.
8. Job Hopping
One of the worst things a hiring or safety manager can see is the constant moving from job to job.
We all know that sometimes, core values are not compatible between a company and an employee, but a driver should not set a pattern of moving from one job to another.
There are onboarding costs involved with hiring a driver, and a company is not likely to invest their time and resources into you if you have a job hopper track record.
9. Having a Poor Reason For Leaving
We all know that getting paid one’s worth is essential. However, that doesn’t mean you should badmouth your previous boss or state that money was a deciding factor for you.
Be professional in stating why you left. A more appropriate statement could be, “There was no room for advancement,” or “I needed to relocate.”
When the first concern out of your mouth is money, it’s not a great start to the business relationship. These types of drivers have a pattern of borrowing money, complaining about their work, and quitting.
Drivers that are professional and respectful set themselves up for success and earn the highest-paying loads, the newest trucks, and room for advancement within the company. Loyalty goes a long way in this business, and the drivers that have been with us the longest and conduct themselves in a professional, respectful manner are treated accordingly.
10. Failing to Report Accidents
Just because an accident isn’t your fault doesn’t mean you can keep it to yourself. Drivers are mandated to report accidents to their employers and to the state in which their license was issued.
We once had a driver that got into an accident with our truck two blocks from the terminal. The officer told him it wasn’t his fault, so he thought he didn’t have to tell us. The side of our truck was all scratched up, and we found out on an inspection notification.
It turns out the other people tried to sue us, even though the police report said it wasn’t our fault. You can imagine how that kind of news is a shock to the employer – we will defend our drivers any day, but when you keep an accident from us, you will lose your job.
That driver could’ve kept his job, but by lying, he ruined his driving career and now has to find a trucking company that will accept him despite this information on his DAC report.
11. Roadside Inspections
If you get roadside inspections, they will look at anything from your logs to the equipment itself. Do proper pre and post-trip inspections to make sure you’re not in violation of any safety regulations.
Violations go on your record as well as the company’s record, and if you have too many violations on your license, trucking companies won’t hire you (including Freight X).
12. Excessive Speeding Violations
Certain traffic violations categorized as “serious violations” can lead to losing your CDL privileges. The specific regulations vary by state, but going 15+ miles per hour over the speed limit is considered a serious volition in every state.
If a driver receives two “excessive speeding” violations in a commercial vehicle, they lose their CDL.
And what some drivers don’t realize is your personal vehicle also counts. If a CDL holder is convicted of one excessive speeding volution in a CMV and one in his or her personal vehicle within three years of the first violation, you lose your CDL.
Additionally, if you are convicted of excessive speeding violations in your personal passenger vehicle, and the second offense is within three years of the first, you also lose your CDL (FMCSA).
Your license is your livelihood – why would you place yourself in this situation?
What Happens Next?
Any of these 12 things can ruin your trucking career – permanently.
Once you’ve damaged your record, your only options in this field are undesirable and/or low-paying trucking jobs. For example:
Jobs that require a CDL-B
School bus driver
Driving dump trucks with small trailers
Getting shipments from ports, which typically require you to live near the port
You go from six-figure earning potential to about $30,000 per year, on average.
Please think twice before doing something stupid, like smoking pot during your 10-hour break!
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.
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.