If you’ve ever wondered why there’s a trucker shortage, this story may help clear up your questions, but probably won’t put your mind at ease, especially if you drive for a living.
I’m an owner operator and recently, I’ve been putting some thought into selling my truck. I’m considering going to drive a company, just for a change of pace.
My Peterbilt is 10 years old. Ordinarily, I would have traded it in for a new ride by now. It’s been a good investment. It hasn’t cost me much in repairs.
I’ve been thinking about selling it, and easing back a little,….slowing down the pace a little…..maybe get a job with a
company as a driver, rather invest money into a 10 year old rig for a rebuild and restoration.
Watch the video version of the article.
My Research on Driver Pay
I decided to do some research into pay packages with various companies and test out the waters, to see what’s shaking in the industry for company driving jobs.
I called about a dozen trucking companies, some big, some smaller. I wanted a general overview of what was available for jobs driving a company truck. Overall, I came away disappointed and disillusioned to say the least.
I would have thought since 1984, the last time I drove a company vehicle, that wages and salary packages would have improved somewhat.
With rising costs and the so-called trucker shortage, I would have thought they’d be treating me like gold and throwing money at me. I’m a professional driver with over 35 years experience. Wow, was I surprised.
Biggest Disappointment With Biggest Carrier
One of the worst experiences I had, was an interview with one of the super carriers, probably the biggest carrier in North America, to be honest.
I thought this carrier should really have their act together. I’d like to work for a carrier like them,…..highly organized and successful.
I spoke to the first recruiter and asked for the mileage rate, which she answered. My next question was regarding the rate of pay for detention time. Well, now she was stumped. She didn’t know the answer.
She then asked a few of her co-workers within ear shot. After putting me off for over 5 minutes, she then referred me to another recruiter. He was able to tell me that they didn’t give anything for detention time. Not the answer I was looking for, but at least he knew the answer.
My third question was about the benefit package. The recruiter knew they offered benefits, but he didn’t know anything about the packages.
At this point, these guys had lost me.
I really thought that a super carrier like this would have done a better job of recruiting, especially recruiting an experienced guy like myself. I know they have lots of seats to fill.
But yet they spoke to me like I was nobody and evidently didn’t really want to spend any time with me. They clearly weren’t interested in me. I quickly dismissed them from my list.
Now in all fairness, I talked to another super carrier, Celadon. I was impressed with them, as their recruiter could answer all my questions. They treated me with respect and I came away impressed over all from that interview.
Company Driving Jobs With Smaller Carriers
I surveyed some of the smaller carriers too. As you might expect, the responses were more satisfying.
In one case, the recruiter was the owner. It was very evident he had some interest in me and treated me with respect.
Most of the carriers I spoke with, didn’t care whether they got me on board or not. I thought the recruiter’s job was to find good drivers and get them on board. But most of the people I talked to, didn’t care one way or the other.
Paid Detention/Waiting Time: A Big Issue
Paid detention is a very important issue to me. Anyone who drives professionally for a living, knows from experience, it’s easy to put in 20 hours of non-driving time each week, while out there working for the carrier.
I asked each recruiter, “Let’s say I’m on the road with your truck and it breaks down. I’m on the side of the road for hours on end, waiting for a mobile repair unit or a tow truck. Would I be compensated for these hours?”
Almost without exception, they confirmed nothing would be paid to the driver in such a situation. A few companies said “Well, in a situation such as that, it might be at the discretion of the dispatcher. He may throw you a few bucks. But, it would depend on the circumstances”.
They wouldn’t provide me a solid number on what it paid though. I guess I’d just have to hope that maybe the dispatcher would feel sorry for me and give me something. But clearly, there was no concrete hourly rate established. They reiterated waiting around was part of the job.
They also confirmed that the first hour or two of a pick up or a delivery was unpaid as well. I wondered why they thought I would want to work for free?
The bottom line is, these carriers expect the driver to wait for free. When the truck isn’t moving, that’s volunteer work by my standards.
I know this is practice is common and it’s expected from the driver: industry standard, they say…. such a stupid phrase.
The hours which I’m on the road driving, ought to be paid. Workers in other industries who work 40 hours per week, get paid for 40 hours per week.
Home Time Scarce
Most of the companies I talked with, indicated I could expect about a day and a half of home time, once per week, basically long enough to reset. Not great home time.
I asked, “What happens if I’m on the road, run out of hours and I need to reset. Am I paid for that?” The common response was, “No, we don’t pay for reset because it’s not our fault that you’re still out there.” So, I could spend my 1 1/2 days off at a truck stop, without pay, spending money to eat.
DON’T EVER Wonder Why There’s a Trucker Shortage
My research added up to an unfavorable conclusion. No wonder there’s a driver shortage in North America.
I thought in the present situation in the industry, where drivers, especially good drivers, are as rare as hen’s teeth, that driver pay packages would have improved considerably.
I was quite aware that company drivers weren’t paid as much as they should be. But, I had no idea how bad it really was in the trucking industry.
I was sure by this time, there would be hourly paid detention, in addition to the mileage rate.
I certainly didn’t need a calculator to crunch the numbers. Taking into consideration the cost of living index, out-of-pocket on the road expenses, it was clear to me, I wouldn’t make enough money for the hours invested.
Really, I’d be better off working at Walmart and spending my weekends at home, rather than driving a company vehicle.
I’ll be giving a long hard stare to the next guy that asks me why on earth there’s a trucker shortage. There’s no trucker shortage, but there is a shortage of drivers willing to do volunteer work for this industry.
Trucker pay must improve. If not, there will be no one worthwhile left to do the job.
A 35+ year experienced driver, with a clean abstract, almost 4 million miles: you would think I could command a good dollar. That would be the case in other industries. …..not so in the trucking industry, and that that’s got to change.