The life of a truck driver is full of big decisions and long lasting consequences. In no other industry are decisions as “make or break” as in the world of heavy-haul trucking. Drivers face a variety of big decisions: equipment, carrier, and what type of freight they will haul. Once all these important decisions are made, drivers have one last choice they must make: will they be more or less successful running as a team?
Team and solo driving afford drivers vastly different lifestyles. The solo driver endures long hours, lots of stress, and a lot of hard work. Team drivers share the same difficulties, but must additionally be wary of another person’s needs, personality, and most importantly, their work ethic. This article will explore some of the Pros and Cons of team driving to help you decide if this option is a good fit for your career.
Driving is a means to an end. Whether you love trucking or simply tolerate it, driving is ultimately a tool to generate revenue. Team driving has the potential to be a great way to maximize the amount of money you make over the road. By teaming you can instantly increase the trucks utilization; loads are delivered quicker due to less hours spent idle.
The math is simple: take more loads, deliver quicker, make more money. Team driving can also provide financial support by sharing the burden of fuel costs, tolls, and even food. Two drivers with similar interests may truly enjoy being around each other as well; the loneliness of the road is real and can be stressful. So, if you’re lucky enough to find someone to share the road with, the benefits to your physical and mental health can be huge.
Every single benefit of team driving hinges on one key factor: will you get along? If not, the potential negatives of teaming can significantly outweigh the benefits. Any time your career is dependent on someone other than yourself, it’s a big risk. If everything goes perfectly, meaning you and your teammate are the ideal match, you still must factor in additional miles and quicker equipment depreciation. Some pairings may not be ideal as personality conflicts arise regularly when two people share a tight space. For some, the loss of their personal, private space is simply not worth it. Prior to teaming up it is crucial to understand the person you will be riding with and take an honest assessment of your ability to coexist. Teaming up with a member of the opposite sex can be a very dangerous choice to make. Many drivers will team up with a spouse or partner believing it will be an easier go. This often has poor results as personal conflicts can easily bleed into professional ones. It’s important to have a clear separation between your career and your personal life.
If you’re thinking team driving is the right economical option for your career, it is paramount to find the right partner to join you on the road. Many will naturally lean towards an already established relationship, like friends or family members. Comfort and trust are the cornerstones of a successful team. You must feel safe with your teammate. To create this feeling of safety, both drivers should know each other’s driving record. Drivers should look for someone with shared goals; not everyone works for the same reason. For example, if you drive to support your family, that is a fixed and repeating need. Finding someone with similar fixed and repeating needs will allow you to pair with a person who, like you, intends to be in it for the long haul. A good, successful team understands and shares motivations and goals.
If you’re still not sure which option is right for you, that’s okay! We have a few easy suggestions that will help you take steps to determine if this is the right path for your career.
Start with a short-term commitment; clearly establish a beginning and end date for your partnership. Draw up a contract that defines driving responsibilities, financial obligations, and a firm time frame. For a first-time team, we recommend a contract ranging between 1 and 3 months at maximum. This can always be extended or redrafted to a new agreement after it expires, but will keep a clear distinction that this is an arrangement between two professionals. The contract must be fair and flexible for both drivers and lay out a game plan you will both adhere to while on the road. If drivers are in a team that is not working out, they will have a stronger chance of fulfilling the commitment if the contract has a definitive end date.
Deciding whether to be a team or solo driver is one of the biggest choices a trucker will make in their career. Big decisions can be stressful; however, by following these guidelines, you can minimize the risk and try it on a limited basis. Remember a good team doesn’t grow overnight and will require regular effort from both drivers. If you can make it work, team driving can accelerate your career and earnings taking you one mile closer to success.