Is Team Driving Right for You?

by Pride Transport | Oct 09, 2019

 

The open road. The limitless horizon. The freedom to be your own boss. There are many reasons why people get into driving a truck. It’s a great job and the nation lives off the backs of truck drivers. We’ve already discussed in past pieces how lost, how hamstrung the country would be without truck drivers and that is a simple fact. The sheer tonnage of goods these road heroes haul is mind-blowing. Maybe that appeals to you, wanting to be a part of what keeps this country moving and growing. But, there’s one small caveat, you hate to be alone for long periods of time. You might think that’s the stake in the heart of your trucking career but, hold on, there is another option. One that will get you behind the wheel, into the action, being part of the solution and that also assuages your dislike of alone time. How is this possible, you ask. Simple: team driving.

 

Maybe You Don't Want To Go It Alone

Team driving is exactly what it sounds like you drive in a team of usually two. Usually what happens is drivers agree to sign on with a carrier to make runs together. The idea of team driving is to keep the truck rolling and the goods moving. One drives while the other relaxes or slips into the bunk and sleeps or reads or whatever else they want to do on their time not behind the wheel. This keeps the freight moving and productivity high.

Solo drivers are required to stop, rest, sleep and take a regulated number of hours off before they can drive again. Team driving solves this issue so the truck literally never has to stop. However that can be unappealing to some, the truck never stopping. Solo drivers have the freedom to stop when and where they desire and they make that decision on their own. Their cab is their castle, they reign supreme there and don’t have to compromise or vote on where and what to eat. Statistically, solo drivers also get a deeper more restful sleep because the truck has to stop. There are rewards for going it solo on the road and if you have the temperament for it, solo driving can be a dream come true.

The rewards of team driving are that you share the driving so for those who want to drive but hate to be alone, here's your answer. Also, both drivers are paid for the combined mileage so there’s a chance to make more money than solo driving.

dimly lit gas station

The carrier wage is applied to the total mileage driven between the two drivers and then split between them both. Many times carriers will offer sign-on bonuses for team drivers. Team drivers can average $100,000 to $150,000 and still earn sign-on bonuses up to $10,000.

 

How the Money Works

In these examples, we are looking at a boilerplate scenario. Bonuses, endorsements, driver experience, none of those are being factored in here, just the basic minimum to illustrate a point. The point being how much more money team drivers can make as opposed to solo drivers. If you want better results, apply direct numbers received from a carrier.

Solo Driving

Okay, so we have a driver, Mike. Mike graduates from truck driving school with a class A CDL. He signs on with a carrier that pays $.30 a mile. Imagine he drives 2,500 miles in a week. Mike is looking at a weekly wage of $750.00. 2,500 miles per week X $.30 = $750.00.

Team Driving

In this scenario, Mike drives with his wife, Beth. They both hold Class A CDL licenses. They sign on with a carrier that pays $.40 per mile for team drivers. Now, even though they combine their miles - they are both in the truck- team drivers split the wage evenly between them. So, in essence, Mike and Beth each earn $.20 per mile - half of $.40. If together they drive 4,500 miles per week Mike is now looking at a weekly wage of $900.00. 4,500 miles driven per week X $.20 = $900.00. They would total together  $1800.00 but that number gets divided evenly between the two.

 

When you find out what wages a carrier is offering for solo and team driving, you can plug that number in and then estimate your potential earnings. The numbers won't be precise, as you will receive bonuses and other incentives, but you’ll have a good idea of your earning potential.

 

Why Doesn’t Everyone Team Drive

That’s a good question. I mean, you can make more money as a team, you can cover more ground as a team. Carriers love team drivers and pay more for them so why doesn’t everyone team drive?

The truth is, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to spend that much time in the cab of a truck with another person. Especially if it’s a total stranger. It’s not impossible but it is not easy either.

The ideal situation for teams drivers is to sign on as a team. Married couples who are close usually make the best team drivers. They have a relationship, they are familiar with each other and they know how to get along.

However, if you arrive without a partner to a team driving situation, you’re going to be paired up with a total stranger. Most carriers will do a little to make sure the team is going to work, pair smokers with smokers, non-smokers with non-smokers but apart from that or an extensive psychological study, getting paired with a stranger could be a total crapshoot.

 

What If...

If you are thinking about team driving you have to think about your what-ifs. Say you are partnered with that total stranger and he likes country music and you like rap. What if he only wants to eat at Burger King but you’re more of a buffet kind of guy. Maybe your new partner thinks that showering every three days is enough while you, on the other hand, think showering every day is more hygienic and respectful. Perhaps he’s a religious zealot and you, well, you’re more of a worldly curmudgeon. These are the “what-ifs” you’re going to have to prepare for. Can you handle that kind of difference? Can you find common ground? Can you make this work or, is it worth making it work for those long miles and weeks together? All questions you need to ask yourself because once you’re in it and hauling a load, you can’t just stop and decide you suddenly want to solo drive. Walk off a job and good luck getting another one any time soon.

But, team driving, when it works, when you have the right partner, it really works.

 

Pros

Some shorthand pros of working as a team driver.

  • Due to hours of service, regulating when a driver can drive and when he must rest, companies love team driving.

  • Maximizes profit margins by keeping the trucks moving round the clock.

  • Driving teams have always been in demand.

  • More available team driving jobs so a driver’s income can be more consistent.

  • For most team drivers, the money at the end of the day is more than when they drove solo.

  • Married couples who are close and both have a CDL benefit the most from the team driving situation.

pile of trash
 
Cons

Some shorthand cons of working as a team driver.

  • Low quality of sleep. Even if the non-driver can sleep while the truck is moving, it is not a deep, restful sleep.

  • Because of the unnatural and sporadic sleep patterns team drivers endure, their circadian rhythms are often messed up and the drivers remain in a constant state of being tired.

  • Not always easy to maintain balance and respect with your co-driver.

  • Mildly irritating behavior can become amplified with time and miles.

  • You have to have 100% trust in your driving partner as they have your life in their hands.

  • Long-time away from home. It’s not unusual for teams to work 2-3 weeks.

  • Sometimes there are 6 week stretches on the road.

  • A truck could technically go non-stop and this kind of schedule is not conducive to family life.

For the most part, the cons of team driving involve being able to spend time in a small space with another human being. If that other human is a wife or partner, it certainly does make the team driving situation more appealing. There’s ample opportunity to make a lot of money and you can spend time with someone you really like, sharing the road and the experience of driving it together.

Solo or team, truck drivers are vital to the economic health of our nation. If you’re seeking a new job, a life change, a change of scenery, being a truck driver just might be the job you’re looking for. Do your research and be honest with yourself. You may not have the temperament to share the ride with someone but you may be perfectly happy passing the miles alone or with your dog. Either way, maybe it’s time to give driving a truck a second thought.

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