Team Truck Driving vs. Solo Driving – Which Is For Me?
Now that you’ve decided that you’re going to take up a career in trucking, you need to determine what area of the industry best suits your needs. There are many different types of freight to be hauled — produce, auto parts, appliances, building materials, chemicals, livestock. You get the idea. As the old saying goes, “If you bought it, a truck brought it.” Now, different types of freight can have a different urgency with respect to delivery times. When you start talking about the van or reefer business, food products can be pretty time sensitive. A lot of auto parts can be as well. The assembly lines depend on a steady supply line to keep churning out the great American automobile.
As you’re determining the type of freight you’ll be getting into, a big factor to be thinking of is this: do I want to run team or solo? There are advantages and disadvantages to each, so let’s take a moment to talk about those.
Perks of Solo Driving
First, let’s talk about running solo. To me, the biggest advantage is having the limited space in the truck all to yourself. You don’t have to worry near as much about where you’re storing your belongings, how you make your bunk, or how many clothes you pack for the trip. It’s your truck, settle in to what best fits you. It’s up to you where and when you want to stop for lunch or dinner. Do you shower in the morning or the evening? It’s all up to you, as long as that load gets delivered safely.
Team Truck Driving Pay
You typically will have a bigger paycheck if you’re doing team truck driving. You will earn more money per mile as a solo, but you won’t get near the miles. Let’s say you earn 25 cents/mile as a solo, and 17 cents/mile as a team. So, let’s break that down. As a solo, you can average 10,000 miles a month, and at 25 cents, that’s $2500 a month. In the same amount of time, a team can run 20,000 miles. Now, your pay is 17 cents/mile, however you get paid ALL miles that truck runs. Not just the miles you drive. So, in the same time frame you will have earned $3400 as a team driver compared to the $2500 you would have made as a solo driver.
The numbers I’m talking about are just examples, but you get the picture. Why does it work this way? Teams are going to haul more time sensitive freight, which gets delivered quicker, which means the truck runs many more miles, which means a bigger bottom line for the company. When that truck is sitting still, it’s not earning money; for you, or your company.
Safety & Training
When it comes to safety, nothing changes. You must always put safety first. As a team, just remember that you have to be very mindful that the way you drive, the radio station you listen to, and even the way you shift and make corners can change when you’re running team. You want to be well rested when it’s your turn to drive, and all of the things I mentioned play a big part in that.
As far as the training you’re going to get out there, it’s all relevant. Hours of service regulations running as a team are the same as running solo. Pre-trip is the same, and you still have to know how to back that trailer. Bottom line is, do you do better by yourself, or as part of a couple? If you’re out there as a team, you must understand that you are signed up to be a business partner with your team mate. You have to talk about everything, and make informed decisions together. Things can go sideways if your communication starts to break down. If you’re out there alone, it’s all on you. You had better be prepared to make those tough decisions, and know what to do if you get into a tight spot. Sometimes it will truly be you and no one else.
Now, what’s the right answer? There isn’t one. It’s all up to you. What matters most to you, and what are you most comfortable with is what counts at the end of the day. As long as you make it back home safely to your family.