Local Truck Driving Jobs

So you’re looking at local truck driving jobs? Great choice. Local trucking is a good fit for many drivers. Remember, as with any job, there are pros and cons to local trucking jobs. Before you make the switch, get to know the benefits and drawbacks of local trucking, and decide whether it’s a good fit for you. 

The Pros 

family life 1. Home Time

Many drivers are drawn to local truck driving jobs because of the home time. It’s for a good reason. Local jobs typically get drivers home every night. If not every night, drivers can expect to be home almost every night. For drivers with a family, that’s hard to beat. 

2. Frequently Off on the Weekends

In addition to being home every night, many local drivers are off on the weekends. This does depend on your company and what you’re hauling, but many local drivers have weekends off.

Weekends off are much more likely in a local position than for OTR drivers.

Attending social gatherings or events on the weekends becomes much more possible with a local truck driving jobs. 

3. Health Benefits

In addition to more home time, local truck drivers pick up some serious health benefits. Local drivers tend to spend less time behind the wheel than regional or OTR drivers. As a result, local drivers are less exposed to the safety risks of being on the road for long periods of time. They are also usually more active. Because local drivers make more stops, there are more opportunities to move around throughout the day. 

4. A Set Routine

If you like to have a fixed schedule, local trucking is for you. Drivers generally have a set hourly schedule that they can count on. That’s great for planning things outside of work. It also gives you a little extra peace of mind to know when you’ll be home and when you need to leave. 

work life balance of Local Truck Driving Jobs5. Excellent Work/Life Balance

Work/life balance is a huge consideration for local drivers. Local truck driving jobs are hard work, but they also help drivers be present for the day to day relationships at home. Local drivers still have to find a balance with their loved ones, but the rewards can be great. If you value being physically present for life’s little moments, local truck driving jobs are for you. 

The Cons

There’s a lot to love about local truck driving jobs. At the end of the day though, they’re just not for everyone. There are a few downsides to consider when you are deciding whether to become a local driver. 

6. Lower Pay

On average, local truck driving jobs pay less than the average OTR position. According to Ziprecruiter, local drivers in the United States earn an average of $51,355. Consider your personal budget and whether the finances work for you in the short and long term. For many drivers, the lower wage is worth the extra work/life balance, but pay is an important consideration.

7. Positions are Competitive

Local truck driving jobs are often extremely competitive. Trucking companies can afford to be choosy because they have a lot of interested candidates.

A good position may require drivers to have some experience first. In addition, there will likely be lots of applicants, so you have to make a strong positive impression when you apply.

If you don’t get offered a position right away, keep getting more experience to help you stand out from other candidates. 

load unload Local Truck Driving Jobs8. Loading and Unloading

Some local truck driving jobs make frequent stops and require physical labor. This depends heavily on your company and type of haul. In some positions, drivers may need to load and/or unload their trucks. Think of it as a built-in weight lifting workout! This might be minor for some drivers, but if you are only interested in no-touch freight, read the job descriptions carefully.

9. Long Hours

The hours you work as a local driver depend heavily on your company. However, for many drivers, days last 10-14 hours. In addition, local drivers may start at any time of the day. For example, it’s not uncommon for a work shift to begin at 4:00 AM. The good news is, many companies offer overtime pay. Longer hours can help bring in a bigger paycheck. With such long days, some drivers find home time a challenge during the week. While local drivers are home every night, there may not be a lot of downtime between shifts. Some drivers feel like they finish work just in time to go home, eat dinner, sleep, and wake up to do it all again. 

Additional Factors

Some parts of local truck driving jobs aren’t exactly pros or cons. It all depends on your preferred work experience. Here are a few additional things to think about.

Are you a People Person?

Some local jobs require more customer interaction than regional or OTR positions. Others don’t ask drivers to interact with customers regularly. Also, local drivers tend to communicate very frequently with their coworkers and dispatchers. This can be a huge plus for some drivers and a downside for others. It’s really about personal preference. Decide for yourself whether you want more interaction with others. Then, seek out jobs that fit your preferences. 

CDL B licenseCity Driving

Like more regular communication, city driving isn’t necessarily a pro or a con. If you don’t mind spending more time in cities and towns, local driving is a good fit. If you strongly prefer to drive on highways as much as possible, consider whether the benefits of local truck driving jobs outweigh the downsides.

Choosing Your Company

You’ve heard it a million timesgood employees don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. It’s true for local truck driving jobs too.

For any trucking job you’re considering, read the details carefully. When talking to recruiters, try to get a sense of the company culture.

Each fleet traits drivers differently. Look for a fleet that matches your professional qualifications and your personal lifestyle preferences.

local truck driving job

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truck driver pay

Truck driver pay is one of the key elements that CDL drivers look for in a new job. Some of the most important factors for earning potential are years of experience, location, the number of miles driven, special qualifications such as endorsements, type of haul, and haul range. Not all jobs are equally compensated, but you should be able to know what to expect from your paycheck. Make sure you get all the details from your recruiter. Whether it’s for a new job or to get started in trucking, here are the types of compensation you may get offered. 

Base Pay

For company drivers, there are four main types of base pay. Some drivers may receive additional compensation in the form of bonuses or specialty pay. That said, the bulk of your income will come from one of these types of base pay.

1. Hourly

Hourly pay is likely familiar to many drivers because it’s common in many industries. In trucking, pay per hour is frequently used by intrastate delivery companies with relatively small driving ranges. Drivers who are paid hourly can often expect work with frequent stops, loading and unloading, and regular customer interaction. Many hourly positions offer overtime hours which can add a big bonus to your paycheck if you’re willing to take on extra hours.

2. Pay Per Mile

This is one of the most common types of pay across the trucking industry. Pay per mile, often called CPM (cents per mile), pays drivers for the miles they run. Within mileage pay, there are several ways to calculate truck driver pay.

  • Practical Mileage. This is the number of miles based on the most efficient path between the address at your starting location and the address at your destination. It’s often calculated with an ELD. Think of it as similar to how Google or Apple Maps calculate a driving route. 
  • Household Goods (HHG) miles. HHG miles are also called zip code miles. Companies calculate routes based on the shortest distance between the post office zip code in the origin city and the post office zip code in the destination city. 
  • Hub Mileage, also called Actual Miles. This type of truck driver pay uses the mileage change on the odometer. It accounts for all hours of service miles including changes in routes or stops. 
  • Sliding Scales Pay. Often this type of pay is used by companies who want to give short-haul drivers a chance to earn a higher income. For example, short hauls (1-500 miles) may pay $0.55 CPM while routes of 500+ miles might earn $0.50 CPM.

In addition to CPM, a job description that pays based on miles should include the number of miles per week that drivers can expect. For example, a job description might offer $0.53 CPM and an average of 2500 weekly miles. A higher CPM is usually good news, but it’s important to read the fine print. Your total pay depends on the number of miles traveled, so look for jobs with a high CPM and enough miles to earn the paycheck you want.

3. Salary

Salaried trucking jobs offer income consistency. For drivers who receive a salary, income is not dependent on the specific miles or hours worked. Instead, a flat rate is set at the start of the job contract and drivers will consistently earn that amount. Often, salaried drivers receive pay weekly.

4. Pay Per Load

Pay Per Load is the least common type of base pay. Most jobs that offer pay per load are in the agriculture, oil and gas industries, or are local delivery jobs.

Drivers earn a flat rate of pay for each load they deliver. In this type of pay, drivers earn more when they deliver more loads regardless of hours or miles.

Additional Truck Driver Pay

Per Diem

In a nutshell, per diem is money given for any place you stay overnight, meals, and other incidental expenses. Per diem is a form of reimbursement, but the biggest benefits come during tax season. Companies may offer per diems by day, per mile, or even as a percentage. If you are a company driver, per diem wages are not considered taxable income. 

For example, if you are paid $0.60 CPM and $0.40CPM is your base income and $0.15CPM is per diem, 25% of your income is not taxable. 

As of 2018, even though company drivers can no longer claim $63 per day as an expense on their taxes, they can claim the standard deduction. A higher per diem wage doesn’t change your annual income, but it does mean that you will pay less in taxes. Owner operators are still able to use per diem and deduct it as an expense on their taxes.

Detention and Layover Pay

When drivers are stopped for long periods of time, some companies will offer compensation. Drivers get detention pay when they are held up at a shipper or receiver for an extended amount of time. Layover pay may be given to drivers who have to wait between loads. Detention and layover pay are particularly important for drivers who are paid by the mile. In addition, some companies offer breakdown pay when incidents happen on the road and drivers cannot log miles.

Stop Pay

Stop pay is typically offered to drivers who will make multiple stops on their run. In general, stop pay does not include the initial or final destination. Like detention and layover pay, stop pay compensates for the time that drivers are not adding miles to their logbooks. More deliveries mean more time stopped and fewer miles. Stop pay helps make up the difference. 

Special Incentive Pay

Drivers can earn special incentive pay for loads that are more difficult because of location, border crossings, hazardous materials, or other non-typical duties. For example, tarp pay is not uncommon for flatbed drivers. Truck drivers who haul refrigerated loads may get a higher cent per mile rate. Similarly, there may be additional compensation for over-dimensional loads or routes in NY and NJ. Endorsements such as HazMat, Tanker, Doubles/Triples, or TWIC cards also frequently help drivers earn higher pay or bonuses.  

Bonuses

While base pay makes up the majority of a driver’s income, many people receive additional pay through bonuses. All companies choose their bonus structures a little differently. Some of the most common bonuses are for fuel, safety, and inspections. Many companies also offer hiring bonuses for signing on to their job or referral bonuses for bringing in new drivers. Performance and on-time delivery bonuses are also frequently used to incentivize drivers. 

Team Driver Pay

Like solo company drivers, team drivers most commonly receive pay based on mileage. For teams, the per-mile rate is a bit higher than for a solo driver, but team drivers share the rate.

The rate for each driver may be lower than for a solo company driver, but each person’s annual income is often higher because teams can drive significantly more miles.

Typically, team drivers split the mileage pay evenly. In some situations, each driver has a different per-mile rate. This may be based on experience or other similar factors. Team drivers may also qualify for bonuses if they reach certain mileage targets. 

Owner Operator Pay

Percentage pay is one of the most common types of income for owner operators. Typically, owner operators negotiate a percentage of the linehaul (gross revenue of the load minus the fuel surcharge). A load with a higher gross revenue means a better payout for the driver. Both independent owner-operators and lease to own operators can also expect to be paid all or almost all of the fuel surcharge. 

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How to Create a Career Path as a Truck Driver

Once you’ve determined that a CDL truck driver job is right for you, how do you get started? And where does the job take you? How long of a haul are you hoping to run? Whether you are starting at age 20 or at age 50, this is a crucial decision. So, when it comes to creating your trucking career path, here are some tips to get you started.

Getting Started

The first thing you need to do, is get a CDL license. But what exact type of license should you get to start? You want to get the right license for the work you’re hoping to do. Once you’ve made up your mind on the type of driving that interests you, you can work to get the correct endorsements.

We spoke with Trucker Style Shawn, a truck driver and now fleet owner, and he shared his advice for new drivers getting started in their trucking career.

Trucker Style Shawn

Trucker Style Shawn

“CDL school will only teach you the bare minimum just to pass your test. The real training is when you go out with a trainer with whatever company you choose. Now I own and operate my fleet of 33 trucks. I went into trucking knowing I wanted to grow a business. I am 30 now and think it has all paid off so far,” shared Shawn.

Getting your CDL license is the place to start when putting together your trucking career path. The process can take some time, but if you’re well prepared, you can work through the steps with ease.

Finding the Sweet Spot

Once you’ve logged a few years on the road, and have a solid safety and driving record, it might be time to start thinking about your options. When preparing for a job change, there’s plenty of things to consider. Is more money a big motivation? Or more time at home is what you’re after? Or perhaps you want to move out from being a company driver to become an owner/operator.

At this point in your career, it’s important to take stock of everything you like and dislike about driving, and carefully weigh it against what your goals are. Then take the necessary steps to move into the best role that aligns with your goals.

Ending Your Time on the Road

Once you’re ready to hang up your keys, there’s plenty of options for a trucker outside of driving. You can become a mentor to young drivers. Or get into a training role to teach those just getting into trucking. Outside of roles helping new drivers, there’s so many other roles that might also be appealing. Your employer might have opportunities available in the office or the warehouse that might be a good fit.

We spoke to another truck driver, Emily Ann, and she shared her advice for finding a company that meets your qualifications and lifestyle preferences.

Emily Ann Trucker Barbie

Emily Ann

“Experience is the biggest thing. Find a company that will train you then you can go anywhere. Don’t jump from job to job. It’s a red flag for companies. I didn’t start right of school because the only people wanting to hire me at the time was over the road companies, and I wasn’t ready to do that. A couple months later I got a job driving a tanker delivering motor oil,” shared Emily.

Many times, retired drivers have great luck working at the office. Who is a better choice to work inside the office, than a driver with years of experience.

Every truck driver has a story about how they got into their career. And they have a story about the many roles they’ve had over the years. Chances are, there’s no 2 stories exactly alike. The standard career path doesn’t really exist. So like every driver, their story of route they took from start to finish is probably a unique one.

If you are looking for the next chapter in your truck driving story, let us help! If you’re looking for a great trucking job that pays well and meet your needs, sign up here for a profile and see what matches we’ve got for you.

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4 Tips for Nailing the Virtual Interview for a CDL Job

Interviewing for a job is probably not on anyone’s list of favorite things to do. Interviews can cause stress and worry. But they are a crucial step in the process. For a seasoned CDL truck driver looking for a new job, you’ve probably seen and heard every possible interview question and technique in the book. However, even for those drivers who have been through dozens of interviews in their careers, the virtual interview can be a new way of the hiring process.

What is a Virtual Interview?

A virtual interview is exactly what it sounds like. A recruiter wants to setup some time to talk to you about joining their company, and they want to interview you. The difference here is that you’re not going to go to their office to have the meeting. You’ll receive an email with information on how and when the meeting will take place. The email should detail the program to use for the call, and how to dial-in when it’s time for the call. For those of you that are used to having video calls with friends and family, it’s very similar. But instead of checking in on how your family is doing, it’s going to be you and the interviewer talking about a potential new CDL driver job.

Preparation

Whether you recently lost your trucking job, or you’re simply looking to explore other opportunities, you need to be prepared for your virtual interview. Be ready for whatever questions they throw at you. Do your research and have your questions ready for the interviewer. That’s a great place to start. But since this one is virtual, not in-person, you need to be sure your environment is going to be ready for the call. Here’s a quick checklist to think through:

1. Prepare Your Environment

Is there loud background noise? Will you be able to hear the interviewer? Is there enough privacy to talk through your answers and questions? Could the interviewer be distracted by what’s going on behind you? Consider all of these things when selecting where you’re going to be when it comes time for your virtual interview.

Try to find a quiet place, free of distractions, where there’s good lighting so they can see and hear you well.

Use your environment to help raise your confidence during the interview. But be sure that it’s in a space conducive to a business meeting.

2. Check Your Technology

Do you need to test the software the company will use? Is your wi-fi or internet connection reliable? Is it best to use your phone or tablet? Or will you be better with a larger screen like a laptop or a desktop? Be sure whatever you choose, you’ll have all the technology working, well before your call is scheduled.

Check your connection and make sure everything is plugged in or fully charged. And have a backup plan handy just in case the day of the interview there’s a snag.

Be sure to test your camera to make sure it’s working properly. And make sure that your phone or laptop is set on a level surface, and not at risk of moving around while you’re talking. One less thing to worry about when you are having the call.

3. Choose Your Clothing

Even though you don’t have to meet your interviewer at their offices, it doesn’t mean this is a pass to stay in your pajamas for this meeting. It’s still a job interview.

You should dress the part of someone who’s looking to make a great first impression. Make sure you look your best and wear a nice clean shirt.

Nobody will know if you’re still in your gym shorts as long as your top half looks presentable and professional.

4. Be Authentic

Even though a virtual interview might be new for you, treat this interview like you would any other job interview. You know that you’re prepared, and your driving record is in good shape. Now it’s time to be yourself!

You’ve got a new advantage in the virtual world, you’re not on their turf in an unfamiliar office. You might be at home, or in the comfort of your cab if you’re out on the road.

Use this to your advantage to put any game day jitters at bay. Being prepared and comfortable can help you nail this interview!

Is the Virtual Interview the New Normal?

For now, many companies continue to have office employees continue to work from home. This means that most of the recruiting and hiring will be done from home. Many companies have been doing this for months now and can seamlessly handle the entire process without ever meeting in person. This might be the new normal for some time. So if you’re in the market for a new CLD truck driver job, the virtual interview is something that you can expect for the foreseeable future.

If you are looking for a new job, please let us help. We can help find you a perfect fit trucking job.

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cvsa safe driver week

Safe Driver Week is almost here! Coronavirus can’t keep trucks off the road, and it isn’t stopping the CVSA Safe Driver Week either. Mark your calendar for July 12-18, 2020. During the second full week of July, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is hosting a week to turn a spotlight to safe driving practices. Each year, the CVSA picks an area of focus. This year, it’s speeding. Clearly, CMV safety is important every week of the year, but CVSA is using this week to nationally highlight safety in trucking.

Why is there a CVSA Safe Driver Week?

If you’re a truck driver hauling essential goods, you may be on the roads almost non-stop. You also might have noticed that most people aren’t driving as frequently. During COVID-19, roads have seen a lot less traffic than usual. It might seem like the roads should be safer during stay-at-home orders, but studies have shown that isn’t the case. There are fewer vehicles on the road, but unfortunately, some drivers are getting too relaxed with safety regulations on the open highways. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), many regions are seeing a big spike in speeding. 

Here are just a few of the numbers from the GHSA:

  • Colorado, Indiana, Utah, and Nebraska have all recorded highway speeds over 100 mph
  • In Minnesota, motor vehicle crashes and fatalities are up more than 2X from a similar period last year. Half of those deaths were related to speeding or negligence
  • New York City has nearly doubled its number of speeding tickets issued in March compared to February of this year

It’s tempting to meet the open roads with an open throttle. Especially when the pressure to meet deadlines is high, a few extra miles per hour might not seem like a problem. But we also know that you care about your safety and your loved ones. The most important thing is to get home safely to them.

During safe driver week as well as the rest of the year, stay safe by practicing defensive driving. That includes regulating your speed and being proactive in poor weather conditions. Similarly, staying alert and well-rested, especially in work zones and other high activity areas helps keep you on the road. 

What Safe Driver Week Means for You

Throughout the week of July 12-18, law enforcement officials will be particularly watchful for drivers engaging in unsafe behavior.

The focus is on speeding, but there will be an increased awareness of other unsafe habits as well.

If officials identify a driver as engaging in unsafe behavior, they may issue a citation. Safe driver week is a national effort, so truckers should be aware whether you’re local, regional, or OTR. Pay close attention to changing speed limits as you drive between states or in and out of cities. 

How to Avoid Citations

The CVSA Safe driver week is focused on speeding this year, but enforcement officers will also have a sharp eye for other violations. Avoid following other vehicles too closely, improper lane changes, and follow traffic signs carefully.

Some of the most obvious reasons to pull someone over are visual ones.

Keep your smartphone away and your eyes on the road. It’s easy to notice when someone is texting or talking on a handheld phone while driving. Both are illegal in many states. Another easily spotted violation? Seatbelt use. Belt up while you’re on the road and you’ll be safer and less likely to get pulled over. 

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2019 brought several proposed changes to Hours of Service Rules for truckers. Since then, those proposed HOS changes have been in a long review process with community input. Some of those same rules have already been modified under March’s Emergency Declaration to meet changing demands during COVID-19. Whether you love the changes or hate them, most of the updates from the end of last year are here to stay. 

The Final Rulings

There are four main changes that were added to the new HOS rules. Ultimately, the goal of each update is to improve safety and offer drivers more flexibility. On June 1, 2020, the final Hours of Service rule updates were released. The new HOS Ruling will officially take effect on September 29, 2020. Until then, the current HOS regulations from the Emergency Declaration will stay in place. 

“30-minute break” Flexibility

Before

The 30-minute break has been hotly debated among drivers since it was first issued. The FMCSA added the rule to improve safety, but it can force drivers to stop at inconvenient times. The old rules stated that drivers had to take a 30-minute break after 8 hours on duty. That time had to be logged as sleeper berth or off-duty. Many drivers don’t love the 30-minute break, but the new rules do bring some improvements.

Now

Under the updated Hours of Service Rule, drivers are required to take a 30-minute break after 8 hours of driving time. You can also now take your break as any combination of Off-Duty, Sleeper Berth, or On-Duty, Not Driving. It still has to be a continuous 30-minute break, but now there are more choices for how you can spend that time.

Split-Sleeper Berth

Before

We’ve voted this rule “Most Likely to Wish You Paid More Attention in Math Class.” The old version of the split-sleeper berth was pretty complicated. About Trucking does a good job explaining the details if you want the full picture. In a nutshell, drivers could split their sleeping time and were able to log driving time either before or after the break. Drivers then had to track how much time they had for the next shift and compare it to the 14-hour work shift clock. That might leave a driver with 5 hours of drive time available, but only 3 hours before hitting their maximum 14 hours. Ouch.

Now

Drivers can split their 10 off-duty hours into one period of 7+ hours in the sleeper berth and 2+ hours either off-duty or in the sleeper berth.

You can use that time for sleep or take advantage of the time to destress in other ways. Importantly, all breaks extend the 14-hour clock.

Whew. The mental math for hours just got easier. 

You may have seen the proposal for the “split-duty provision” aka the “14-hour pause” that was initially proposed. After hearing arguments on both sides, this update was ultimately not included in the final ruling due to safety concerns. 

Adverse Driving Conditions 

Before

Prior to the new Hours of Service rule, drivers were getting mixed messages about the policy for adverse driving conditions. Drivers could extend their drive time by up to 2 hours. That said, the 14-hour threshold was still a limiting factor. For example, even if your shipment got delayed due to unforeseen weather conditions and you were 30 minutes from delivering when you hit 14 hours, that’s where you had to stop. 

Now

Under the updated HOS rules, drivers can extend their drive time AND their 14-hour workday if needed. The extension can be no more than 2 hours but it gives drivers more flexibility in keeping their intended schedule. Even with the added time, pay close attention to road conditions and safety. If the weather gets really bad, make sure you know your rights as a driver.

Short Haul Exception

The Short Haul Exception applies only to CDL holders who run close to their home terminal AND do not run logbooks. If you don’t fit that description, this last update won’t affect you.

Before

The previous short haul rule stated that drivers who meet those criteria could drive a maximum of a 12-hour work shift and were limited to a radius of 100 miles from their terminal.

Now

The basic ideas behind the short haul exception have not changed. Instead, the time and radius maximums have been expanded. Drivers who meet the criteria of the short haul exception can now work 14 hours on-duty and with a radius of 150 miles. This rule won’t impact all drivers, but it may increase miles for anyone in this category.

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Things to Know Before Becoming a Flatbed Driver

If you’re a truck driver looking for a challenge, some might say flatbed drivers have the most challenging jobs over the road. Others might even say it is the most dangerous trucking gig out there. But if you’re up for the adventure, flatbed trucking can be a great job. So, when thinking about becoming a flatbed truck driver, here are a few things to know before deciding.

1. Flatbed Driving: The Basics

Let’s start with the basics: to drive a flatbed truck, you need to have a CDL license. In most cases, that requires a Class A or B license. Once you have the license, companies hiring flatbed drivers typically prefer flatbed experience to get started, so finding a company that provides training would be helpful.

Flatbed drivers are in high demand and because of this, pay is typically more competitive than other driving jobs. The high demand for flatbed drivers is likely directly linked to the skills required to be a successful flatbed driver. Unlike dry van or reefer jobs, flatbed jobs often require more physical work to safely secure the loads with tarps.

Marian Kulostak Flatbed Driver

Marian Kulostak, Flatbed Driver

We talked to Marian Kulostak, a flatbed driver, and he shared his advice:

“Take your time, do it right the first time. Speed will come with experience. Ask questions, observe others, and then ask more questions!” shared Marian.

Learning how to become a successful flatbed driver takes time as well as experience on the job. Finding other drivers who are willing to help you learn and answer your questions is key to succeeding quicker.

2. Securing Your Cargo is Key

oversized flatbed load

Oversized Loads

While all flatbed drivers typically need to learn how to secure their load, hauling oversized freight requires even more skill. These flatbed drivers carry unusually shaped freight that does not fit inside the confines of a standard sized trailer. As such, these loads need plenty of support to keep them secure. Check out the handbook from the FMCSA to cover all of the topics of cargo securement.

Conestoga Trailers

Some flatbed drivers will have a conestoga trailer instead of a typical flatbed trailer. These trucks are unique and often make loading, unloading, and securing much more convenient for the driver as well as provide shelter for your freight without the need of manual tarping.

Weather Conditions

Brittney Mills Flatbed Driver

Brittney Mills, Flatbed Driver

Not only do the loads need to be secured, but flatbed drivers also need to make sure freight is protected from weather conditions. We talked to Brittney Mills, an experienced flatbed driver, and she shared her advice:

“Always check your securement. If you think you have enough straps or chains, add one or two more. You can never be too safe. Make sure your tarps are tight, loose tarps can cause it to rip or your load to get wet,” shared Brittney.

Securing freight during inclement weather not only protects the load, but it also protects other drivers on the road. Without this extra precaution, the tarps could fly up while driving, causing a major distraction and hazard to other drivers.

3. Additional Safety Tips

When it comes to loading, unloading, and securing, following specific safety tips is essential. It is highly recommended that drivers avoid attending to freight while on the side of the roadway. Taking time to secure loads while at a truck stop or in a parking lot will provide flatbed drivers with a much safer environment.

flatbed truck driverIn addition, wearing the right clothes as a flatbed driver is also key. Investing in shoes with a good, no-slip grip will be helpful, especially during rain or snow. Having something that covers your clothes can also be helpful, especially when loading and unloading freight that potentially has mud or other elements covering it.

Overall, flatbed drivers are one-of-a-kind and demand a very specific set of skills. Mastering these will not only allow drivers to flourish in the area, but also start to stand out from the crowd of other drivers.

EJ Stutzman is Hiring Flatbed Drivers

Hiring OTR Conestoga Flatbed Drivers

Looking to join a family-owned company? E.J. Stutzman is hiring CDL A OTR Conestoga Flatbed drivers 150 miles around Sugarcreek, OH.

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per diem for truck drivers

The new per diem regulations were passed in December of 2017 and took effect for the next year’s tax season. Even though that was 4 years ago, there’s still a lot of confusion about changes in per diem for truck drivers. There’s a lot of information and mis-information out there, so we’re here to make it a little simpler.

The per diem rules are all about costs on the road and how you get paid back. You work hard to make a living, and every dollar counts. Make sure you understand per diem for truck drivers to keep money in your pocket. Whether you’ve never been clear on how per diem works or you want a refresh, this is for you

1. Definition

In a nutshell, per diem is money given for any place you stay overnight, meals, and other incidental expenses.

Literally, per diem means “per day,” and you can think of it as a set amount that you will be reimbursed for certain expenses per day. The updated per diem regulations come from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. 

2. How does Per Diem Actually Work?

Per diem is a form of reimbursement. If your company has a per diem allowance, you probably have to pay for meals on the road, and then they will reimburse you for that cost in your next paycheck. The money usually comes as a set amount or in proportion to the number of miles driven. Since you paid for those meals (or lodging, etc.) out of pocket, and your company is simply paying you back, that money is not considered taxable income. Good news for you! That distinction between per diem (which is a reimbursement) and income is important. It means that your adjusted gross income will be lower when it’s time to file taxes. And a lower adjusted gross income means that you will likely owe less in taxes or get a bigger refund. 

3. Impact for Company Drivers vs. Owner Operators

Company Drivers

income taxes

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, per diem for truck drivers has changed the most for company drivers. If you’re a company driver, you can no longer itemize deductions for your taxes. In other words, drivers cannot show all of the expenses that come from being on the road in the same way that you used to. Don’t worry though. You can often still receive per diem for the nights you’re away from home.

There are two ways the money you spend for your job comes back to you. First, most company drivers will make up a lot of that money by claiming the standard deduction, which doubled under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. For single tax filers, the standard deduction went from $6,300 to $12,000 and for couples filing jointly, it increased from $12,000 to $24,000. Second, some companies have increased their per diem wage. 

Here’s an example. If you get paid 55 cpm, and 45 cpm is a base wage and 10 cpm is considered per diem wage, that part of your income is not taxable. Now, if a company still pays 55 cpm, but 35 cpm is a base wage and 20 cpm is per diem wage, that would mean that 36% of your income would not be taxable.

A higher per diem wage means that your salary stays the same, but you will pay less in taxes. Companies should, however, be very careful to avoid wage recharacterization.

Owner Operators

Tax season for owner operators hasn’t changed as much in terms of per diem. Owner Operators can continue to claim per diem expenses more or less as usual. What is the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on owner operators? Actually, it’s a huge benefit. As an owner operator, you can continue claiming per diem and use the higher standard deduction rate. To do that, keep careful track of your work expenses. If you claim per diem for truck drivers in your taxes, you will need to individually list out, or itemize, all your costs. A little organization early on goes a long way when tax season rolls around.

4. So… Do Company Drivers get Per Diem Benefits?

trucking industry changesIn short, it depends on your company. If your company reimburses costs with a flat rate or a cpm increase in your salary, then yes—you are getting per diem benefits. If your company does not offer a flat rate or cpm increase for overnight stays, you can no longer claim those expenses as lost income on your taxes. You can claim the new standard deduction which is much higher and will help offset the money spent for food and lodging while on the road.

5. Eligibility 

Per diem programs can vary significantly by company. When you consider joining a new company, ask about their per diem policy. Our friend Leah Shaver, President & CEO of The National Transportation Institute (NTI), works closely with industry experts to track driver compensation, including per diem.

Leah shared, “[NTI’s] in-house research analysts and fleet executives collaborate to design, develop and deliver driver pay studies. One of those pay study subject matters is per diem and we find that many fleets offer this benefit in some form, either per day or per mile, some even on a percentage basis.”

Not all companies have a per diem plan, but these programs can be a benefit for both company drivers and owner operators. If there is a per diem program, find out whether you are eligible. This eligibility may be based on the number of miles you’ve driven, how long you’ve been with the company, or other similar criteria. Then, if you’re eligible, decide if joining the per diem program makes sense for you. 

6. When you get the money (Owner Operators)

Choosing to claim per diem for truck drivers as an owner operator can change when you will get the money for the costs of being on the road. 

Essentially: Do you pay for expenses and then get reimbursed in your next paycheck? Or Do you claim per diem in taxes (owner operators only) and get a bigger tax refund? If you participate in a company’s per diem program, you will be reimbursed throughout the year in your paychecks. If there is no per diem program or you choose to claim those expenses on your taxes, you will get a bigger tax return. At the end of the day, your take home pay (after all taxes) should be very similar.

Think of per diem as a decision of when to get the money and in what form, not of how much money you will get.

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lease purchase programs

For many drivers, becoming an Owner Operator is the gold standard of the trucking industry. Lease Purchase programs can be a great way to move toward that goal, but they’re not for everyone. If you’re considering a lease purchase program, make sure you read the fine print. Details are everything. Here’s what you need to know.

What and When

First things first: a lease purchase program is a program that allows drivers to buy a truck through an established carrier. Remember, lease purchase programs are not the same as lease operator programs.

Trucker NaeNae & her dog Jake

We spoke to Trucker Nae Nae, a Lease Operator, and she explained, “Lease operator has no money down but you return the truck at the end of the contract. Lease purchase [are] usually 10-14k down, higher payment and [drivers] keep truck at end of contract.”

Lease Purchase programs can be a great stepping stone on the way to becoming an owner operator. Take time to get to know the pros and cons of lease purchase programs. Ultimately, that will help you make the choice that is right for you.

Pros of Lease Purchase Programs

Finances

If you’re looking for a way to end up with a truck of your own, but aren’t ready to buy a rig outright, lease purchase is a good option. You will own your truck at the end and will have smaller down payments compared to buying a truck directly. Trucker Nae Nae notes that drivers can expect down payments of $10,000-14,000. While not small, that’s much more affordable than buying a used truck outright at an average cost of just over $40,000!

Monthly payments for lease purchase programs typically range from $300-$1,200/month.

In addition, drivers don’t need to establish an individual line of credit because the lease purchase agreement is through a carrier.

Choose Your Own Truck

Lease Purchase programs are the first step to completely owning your trucking career! As you consider what tractor to purchase, decide what type of hauls you want. Choose the truck that fits the direction of your career as well as your personal equipment preferences.

As you narrow down your list of potential lease purchase companies, make sure your top choices have enough loads for you. It’s critical that you get enough miles to support yourself, so choose a program that can prove they have sufficient loads for you.

Build A Strong Reputation

As an owner operator, one of your most important assets will be your reputation. Carrying freight for a lease purchase company is a great way to build a reputation as a reliable carrier. Some companies allow drivers to contract for other companies while under the lease purchase agreement. Start building your list of connections while working under the lease purchase agreement. By the time you own your own truck, you can apply for contracts with confidence and a good name.

Permits

Getting your own truck on the road is so much more than buying a rig. For one thing, all trucks have a series of required permits. Lease purchase programs typically provide those permits for anyone in their program. It’s a great way to save yourself from jumping through a few extra hoops. In addition, getting your permits through a company will get you on the road a little faster.

Get the Perks

If your lease purchase program is full service, ask about service and maintenance benefits! Some companies will keep a maintenance account for you. They may fully or partially cover the cost of preventative maintenance, training, or performance reporting. Read the contract on maintenance costs and perks particularly closely. If the leasing company does not offer a full-service program, be very clear on who is responsible for maintenance. If you are responsible, CDL Life recommends setting aside 15-25% of each paycheck to offset the cost.

Cons of Lease Purchase Programs

Making It Add Up

When you start the lease purchase journey, income might feel like a big question mark. First of all, your pay is likely to fluctuate as you adjust to the new position. And, you’re now responsible for making payments on the new lease! A Truth About Trucking survey found that many drivers were promised more miles than they actually received. Make sure your contract clearly states how many miles you can expect, so you can be confident that it meets your needs.

Navigating Contracts

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all contract that companies use for lease purchase agreements. There can be some pretty big differences between carriers, so make sure you read the fine print. When possible, get a second opinion from an attorney or other legal professional. Repairs and maintenance are two of the biggest costs – review these sections with a fine-tooth comb. Before you sign, make sure you understand the contract inside out. If you’re not sure about something, ask questions. Only agree to the contract when you feel confident that you understand the agreement.

Common Red Flags

If the lease purchase contract seems off for any reason, get a second opinion. When you look at the contract, there are a few common red flags to watch for.

  1. Unreasonably high missed payment penalty
  2. The company is pushing you to make a decision quickly or they don’t want you to get a second opinion
  3. You’re not sure whether you’ll be able to get enough miles
  4. There is a balloon payment at the end of the contract that essentially requires you to stay on with the same company even if you can technically pursue other jobs.

If you review a contract with any of these red flags and the company seems unwilling to negotiate, step away. There are many lease purchase companies to choose from, and you are likely saving yourself from trouble down the road.

The Takeaway

Lease Purchase Programs are a great way to make the leap to becoming an owner operator. When you choose a company, get to know the details. Look for carriers that allow you the freedom to run as you see fit (not tied to a central dispatcher). Also, check load boards to make sure they will have ample freight for you.

As you consider lease purchase programs, don’t forget about the business side. Are you ready to run your own company? Make sure you feel confident with your bookkeeping, taxes (don’t forget the 2290 Highway Use Tax), and other necessary paperwork. Similarly, understand how your payment for the lease purchase is made. Have you done your research and talked with drivers who have successfully completed the lease purchase program? Listen for any hesitation they might have as well as positive reviews of the program.

Whether to pursue a lease purchase program is a big decision. Ultimately, it will impact you as well as your family, especially if you are a parent.

Trucker Nae Nae

Trucker Nae Nae

Trucker Nae Nae shares her experience with making the transition, “I wanted to make sure I like my new career choice without having to worry about ownership. Now I am ready. For any lease, you will work to cover your payments with less time at home. Really consider your family life before signing the contract. It will be fine. It could be financially difficult to get home monthly.”

At the end of the day, this is a very personal decision. Remember, if anything seems not quite right, don’t sign the contract yet. You can walk away from a bad deal. Know your priorities going in, and you’ll find a program that is a great fit for you!

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Team driving is a great option to explore for some professional truck drivers. Having a partner to navigate thousands of miles of highways can be a real benefit to a single driver. Two sets of eyes, ears, and hands can make most jobs easier and runs completed faster. Sounds pretty great, right? But there’s also some aspects of team driving that might not be as great. So if you’re looking into becoming a team driver, you need to find out if team driving is right for you.

What is a Team Driver?

What is a team driver? Well, it’s pretty much exactly how it sounds: two professional drivers who work together, sharing miles in the same truck. Team drivers share the responsibilities equally, and while one sleeps, the other drives. This type of driving can be very beneficial for both new and seasoned drivers. Many companies prefer hiring teams as they can guarantee their customers faster delivery times, as teams have less downtime than a single driver.

Pros and Cons

The best thing to do when making a decision like this, is usually to weigh out the pros and cons. Create a list of all of the things that make team driving an attractive proposition. Someone to help with the work. The load keeps moving even when you’re sleeping. More runs completed faster, usually equals more money.

But the flip-side of that, is that there’s someone always with you—all day, every day. When you’re trying to sleep, you have to contend with all the normal road noise. And no matter what you get paid, it’s always going to be split right down the middle. There’s a lot more to consider, but these a few things to think about early in your decision making process.

Finding the Right Partner

Having the right partner is the most important part of team driving. You need to be compatible, share similar priorities, understand each others needs, and most importantly, you need to feel safe knowing they’re driving while you’re asleep. Many times, carriers can help successfully pair drivers for a team. But in many cases, team drivers come to the company already as a team. One of the most common types of driver teams is a married couple.

PJ and Mike Team Driving Couple

PJ and Mike

PJ and Mike, a USA Team Trucking Couple, have been team driving for years. They shared the following for anyone considering team truck driving:

“The insight we can give is that team driving is not for everyone. It’s a hard career. Most driving schools and companies don’t teach team drivers on how to work and drive together. So for most team drivers, there is a big learning curve. Team drivers need to learn each others’ driving strengths and weaknesses,” shared PJ and Mike.

Have you considered driving as part of team? Do you currently drive as part of a team? We’d love to hear your stories. Drop us a note on our Facebook page here.

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