Smith's - "View
from the Cab"
Official Trucking Information Series
Team truck driving is being investigated by many people looking into the possibilities of making more money in truck driving. The ads all say the right things but what is the truth when it comes to team driving? Can you really make more money driving as a team?
As a driving team, the goal is to keep the truck moving 24/7. You will find articles and ads claiming high mileage and high pay every week, as well as there being such a high demand for team drivers. The truth is, most companies are looking for team drivers, just like they are looking for solo drivers.
However, many of us know what the solo drivers go through in the world of trucking. The same applies for team drivers . . . this is still OTR trucking.
Freight slows down, even for team drivers. The average weekly miles for a driving team is 3600 to 5000. Will you get 5000 miles every week? Not likely. But most of the time, if the company is a good one, you should average close to that figure. Also, remember that in team driving, both drivers split the cents per mile pay. Therefore, if the company is paying the average of .38 cents per mile, you both are making .19 cents per mile.
That is to say, if you are both considered “equals” and one is not the “lead driver.” The average pay for teaming is .32 cents to .47 cents per mile. So let's look at how all this figures out.
We are going to say that you belong to a team that is going to run 52 weeks per year, never stopping, never going home. You are going to average 5000 miles per week. You are with a really, excellent company and they are paying your team the top dollar of .47 cents per mile!
• 5000 miles X .47 cents per mile = $2,350 per week.
• $2,350 divided by 2 = $1,175 per week (Gross Pay)
• Gross yearly pay per driver = $61, 100
Not a bad income, right? Of course, this is an extreme exaggeration because few people can handle running 52 weeks per year, never going home.
You SHOULD make more money driving as a team.
Team truck driving is also the “easier” version of OTR trucking due to the average haul for team driving being around the 1500 mile mark. Is it without problems? Absolutely not. Nothing in trucking is without problems.
Let's look at team truck driving on a more realistic scale.
On the average, team drivers will run 35 weeks per year, giving them 17 weeks per year at home, enjoying a break. What kind of yearly gross pay can a team driver expect with this type of running?
• 5000 miles X .47 cents per mile = $2,350 per week.
• $2,359 divided by 2 = $1,175 per week (Gross Pay)
• $1,175 per week X 35 weeks = $41,125 . . . gross yearly pay.
This is nearly the average gross yearly pay for a solo driver. Right now, the average yearly pay for a solo driver falls between $35,000 and $45,000. The amount of income you can earn as a team driver depends on how long you want to stay out and run. However, this applies for a solo driver as well.
When ads claim you can gross $160,000 per year, they are basically saying that you will have to run all the time, with very little time at home, if any. Some teams do, but for most of us, this is not realistic.
But, if your question is: can you make more money in team driving, then the answer is “yes.” If you are willing to sacrifice and run hard for the miles and make the commitment to live in the truck. Therefore, the next question should be, “Are you “team material?”
In order to be a successful truck driving team, you only have to ask yourself two questions:
1. Can I get along with my co-driver for 24/7?”
2. Do I trust my co-driver?”
There are plenty of horror stories about team driving. Many professional, over the road drivers will never team. Why? Both drivers have to be able to get along with each other, in a cramped area, for 24 hours per day, seven day per week.
Also, while one is driving, the other is sleeping . . . will you be able to trust this person with your life? Will you be able to switch shifts? Instead of one driving all day hours and the other driving all night hours, what will happen when you decide you want a change?
Can you trust that your partner will be able to stay awake at night, after having driven all day hours?
Team truck driving simply boils down to using common sense. Your partner has to be someone you can get along with on a 24/7 basis, and one you who will trust with your life, as well as one who will “pull their share” of the load. The best teams on the road today are husband and wife teams. Spouses generally do very well in team truck driving. There are still problems, like anything in life, but team
driving works very well for the most part, between spouses.
As you have read earlier, trucking companies regulate the amount of miles you receive, and this is true for team operations as well. Remember how I stated that mileage is nearly always based on the magical 2500 miles per week for solo drivers? This is why you will normally hear the 5000 miles per week for team driving . . . 2500 times two drivers = 5000.
So how does this average weekly mileage add up for both solo and team drivers? Let's compare a solo driver at .36 cents per mile, and a team driver at .36 cents per mile. The solo driver averages 2500 miles per week and the team driver averages 5000 miles per week . . . not hard to figure out, is it?
Each driver would gross $900 for the week. Therefore, the only way a team driver could make more money than a solo driver, is to be paid above the average pay of a solo driver. If the team is making .47 cents per mile, then the team driver would come out ahead by $275 per week.
Keep in mind, however, many solo drivers are earning .47 cents per mile as well.
So what is the advantage of team driving? In my opinion, only the ability to earn $200 to $300 more per week, if your current solo position is paying less than what the team position will be paying.
If you are already making .45 cents per mile as a solo driver, what purpose would it serve to go work as a team driver making .45 cents per mile? If you are with a really bad company paying only .32 cents per mile, let's say, as solo, and you can team for .42 cents per mile, you will increase your weekly gross pay by an average of $250. This may be worth it for you if things are tight financially.
Driving as a team could bring you an extra $8,750 to $10,000 per year in income, if the pay surpasses what you are making as a solo driver. Again, you will have to find the right partner who you can get along with for long periods of time and one you can trust with your life.
If you can do this, and you're up to the sacrifice, then teaming can bring you a better income. Just remember that you will not always get exactly 5000 miles per week, and this style of trucking is not free of problems.