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Five Secrets Your Trucking Company May Be Keeping From You

Updated on May 26, 2017

Originally written by Monica Martins of Carmen Transportation

What Does It Cost You?

Let’s face it – drivers are lied to and mislead a lot. Their experiences often go from bad to worse every time they make a company change, and after having been promised the moon, the stars and everything in between. You can call it bad recruitment strategies, or a fundamentally poor cultural infrastructure. What the driver sees though is that he or she is not getting what they bargained for.

There are the obvious incentives, the sign on bonuses, competitive mileage rates or dedicated routes, but what about the things that drivers aren’t seeing because they’re so focused on their bottom line? What about the costs that take away from the very incentives that drew them to a company?

That’s what we’ll be discussing here – the secrets that your trucking employer may be masked with all sorts of “competitive” incentives.

Secret #1: The Risk of Paper Logs VS. E-logs

E-logs will be mandatory by the end of this year, yet many companies and drivers believe that e-logs will keep them from making money. What’s more concerning is drivers are left responsible for correcting mistakes that dispatchers make with their customers by accepting loads that would be challenging to make on time. The e-log will prevent drivers from feeling pressured to violate their Hours of Service and correcting trip planning errors made by the dispatcher and shipper.

Let’s look at this equation:

False logs + more work done = success

Right?…

No! Dead Wrong.

It seems quite silly when it’s laid out in front of you like that, but drivers and their companies hardly consider burnout rates and as a result, the increased chances of accidents and fatalities.

More alarmingly is that this isn’t the secret we’re talking about when it comes to paper logs versus e-logs. Here lies the problem: imagine you are involved in a serious accident. Naturally, the MTO or DOT are going to ask you to produce the last 14 or 8 days of logs, respectively. Based on the severity of the accident, the police and insurance companies will try to match up where you say you were, and where you were technically supposed to be, by looking at tolls, cameras, fuel receipts, etc. Herein lies the biggest problem: you cannot be in two places at once. It is important to understand that in a situation like this, no company would accept responsibility, leaving you, the driver to deal with what could be a devastating situation on your own. Further to this, companies using paper logs usually result in drivers not getting paid for all their hours because they have to truck illegally while making their logs look legal.

Secret #2: Leasing Is Always A Great Idea…

Owning a truck is an accomplishment for a professional truck driver. Due to the nature of the large investment, there is a natural dilemma between purchasing or leasing a truck. The obvious benefit to leasing a truck would be that monthly payments are typically lower because only the cost of depreciation is being accounted for. Having said that, lease periods can extend over many years, and have been known to be called ‘never-ending-leases’. Leased trucks are often older and require more maintenance and it is important to note that in a lease set up, being unable to cover the cost of repairs or make a payment towards the truck will lead to the truck being taken back by the lessor, without receiving any money back.

If you are looking to purchase or lease a truck, do your research and consider getting a written cost comparison between an outright purchase and a lease. When a contract is drawn, make sure that all payments are stated out-front and consider setting money aside (approximately 10 cents per mile) in an escrow account for future maintenance and repairs.

Secret #3: Don’t worry About Citations And Fines

Imagine this: you’re across the border with a full load when you’re pulled over. The state trooper or scale inspection station runs your license and informs you your license is suspended due to an unpaid citation/fine that happened at your previous company a few years back, or alternatively, a fine that you overlooked and decided not to pay. Now, here you are, across the border, unable to continue your trip, make your miles, deliver a load in a timely way and ultimately, make money.

In the case that your current or previous company says they will pay a fine, be sure to ask for a receipt of the payment. In the situation that you receive a citation or fine unrelated to your work, be sure to pay it before crossing the border.

Secret #5: Pay Package Promises

You’ve been promised a mileage rate that is higher and more competitive than most trucking companies you’re aware of. To top it off, you’ve got a sign-on and safety bonus that you look forward to depositing. You may have just struck the trucking jackpot! There’s just one problem– did you get it in writing?

The “he said/she said” game is one that often doesn’t end well for the person who needs it most. Most importantly, a pay package won’t be enforceable unless it’s written down and accepted by both parties. If anyone makes you a deal you can’t pass on, get it down on paper and read all the terms and conditions before you accept it – otherwise, you may be entitled to a total of $0.

What Now?

The purpose of this article is not to alarm anyone- but rather to equip drivers with tools to make the best decision they can when choosing their next trucking employer. By knowing these secrets up front, drivers can protect themselves from being in tricky situations that they wouldn’t have otherwise foreseen.

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