Top 25 Trucking Companies for General Freight Haulers

JB Hunt Transport Truck Driver Driving on County RoadIf you want to get a job with the best paying trucking companies in the US, start with the top—the top 25 that is. The Journal of Commerce (JOC) regularly puts out a list of the top trucking companies of the year. For truck drivers interested in getting trucking jobs with general freight haulers, we have deciphered the list to identify those freight haulers you’d be most interested to work for. Check out our findings before you make your final choice in trucking employers.

Top 25 General Freight Trucking Companies

Before listing these top performing companies, consider how the findings are gathered. The list is generated by taking into account several factors including annual revenue, percent change in revenue, and public perception of the companies. Without further ado, here they are in rank from first to 25th:

  • JB Hunt Transport Services
  • YRC Worldwide
  • Swift Transportation
  • Schneider National
  • Landstar System
  • XPO Logistics, which now owns Conway
  • Old Dominion Freight Line
  • Arcbest
  • Estes Express Line
  • Werner Enterprises
  • Prime
  • Roadrunner Transportation Services
  • US Xpress Enterprises
  • Kenan Advantage Group
  • R & L Carriers
  • CR England
  • CRST International
  • Saia
  • Knight Transportation
  • Averitt Express
  • Southeastern Freight Lines
  • Celadon Group
  • Crete Carrier
  • Cardinal Logistics
  • Quality Distribution

These companies haul general freight in a variety of ways, such as LTL, truckload, dry van, heavy haul, specialized, and dedicated. Each was selected for the 2016 list based on their performance in 2015.

What to Look for in Top Paying Trucking Companies

When you take a good look at each of these companies to consider whether or not you would want to work for them, here are some tips:

  • Check out their benefits packages. You want a trucking company that offers great benefits, but you also want to consider if you’ll take advantage of the benefits. Not interested in affordable dental, vision and healthcare coverage? Then it wouldn’t make sense to choose a trucking company that has the best insurance options. Almost ready to retire? You probably won’t benefit from a 401k at this late in the game, so this won’t be a deal breaker for you.
  • Look at their driver retention and turnover rates. If the turnover rate is far greater than the retention rate, it’s a bad sign. Even the best paying trucking companies aren’t top notch if they can’t keep their drivers employed. This is most likely a human resources or personnel issue, i.e. dispatchers who make the lives of drivers miserable.
  • What will you get paid per mile? How long will you be home between home time? Will you get holidays off, and will they be paid holidays? These are just a few of the questions you will want to ask about your potential trucking employer. Think of other questions that are relevant to your situation, such as ability to take time off when needed for family issues, etc.

Each of these issues are imperative when it comes to choosing a truck driving job. After all, you won’t be happy working for the best general freight hauling company if you aren’t receiving the benefits or job requests that you want. Another key here is to look for companies on this list that are in your home state or region. If you have to move to another part of the country to take a truck driving job, this might not be the best plan for you financially and personally. If you are new to the trucking industry, however, and you have little by way of needs or demands, you can kick off your truck driving career by opting for one of these top performing general freight hauling firms.

Top 25 Trucking Companies for Refrigerated Trucking Loads

Shaffer Trucker Driving on a County RoadAs you look for the best paying trucking jobs for refrigerated trucking loads, you need to know where to start. Thankfully Transport Topics has compiled a list of the most successful reefer trucking companies on the road. Using data from 2015 we have a list of the top 25 companies to consider for your next trucking job. Learn about these trucking companies and

Find out what you need to know to get hired on by them.

List of the Top 25

According to this data these 25 companies are ranked at the top because of their total revenue for 2015. Let’s take a look at the Top 25, then we can better address their rankings. These are listed from first to last:

  • Prime Inc.
  • CR England Inc.
  • KLLM Transport Services
  • Stevens Transport
  • Marten Transport LTD
  • Swift Refrigerated
  • TransAm Trucking Inc.
  • John Christner Trucking
  • Shaffer Trucking
  • May Trucking
  • Southern Refrigerated Transport
  • Navajo Express Inc.
  • CanXpress
  • Black Horse Carrier Inc.
  • J&R Schugel Trucking Inc.
  • Midwest Coast Transport
  • WEL Cos.
  • National Carriers
  • Freymiller Inc.
  • Day & Ross Transportation
  • Bay & Bay Transportation
  • Continental Express
  • Celadon Group Inc.
  • Total Quality Inc.
  • Interstate Distributor Co.

On this list we have several of the national trucking companies that we see at the top of most trucking haul lists. These include Prime, CR England, Stevens Transport, Swift, and Celadon. If you are a truck driver who is interested in hauling reefer loads, along with other haul types like dry van loads, tanker loads and OTR trucking hauls, these companies are your best bet. Thanks to their national growth across multiple haul types you will have the opportunity to stay plenty busy.

Something to consider is that most of these trucking companies experienced a negative revenue change. The exceptions here are nine companies that include Prime Inc., KLLM Transport Services, John Christner Trucking, CanXpress, Black Horse Carriers, WEL Cos., Freymiller, Celadon, and Interstate Distributor. While this does not indicate that these companies are in any trouble financially or with getting loads, it’s something to keep in mind if you want the best paying trucking jobs. Do your research for a specific refrigerated hauling company to see just how long they have been declining in revenue to give you an idea of where they will be five or 10 years from now. This is also related to the economy, so don’t hold too much weight on the revenue change. After all, these are the top earning reefer companies for 2015, which says a lot right there.

Getting Reefer Trucking Jobs

If you are interested in getting reefer trucking jobs you want to start by getting the right type of trucking experience. When dealing with reefer loads you have a whole slew of new demands. A reefer unit comes with a diesel motor that must be kept full of fuel in order to operate. This is an added cost, as well as added task at the fuel pumps. Also your reefer unit has to run efficiently, and you will need to stop and check it frequently to make sure it’s working properly. A few degrees of difference in the reefer trailer will damage if not destroy the items you are hauling, particularly when dealing with perishable produce.

To get the experience with working with reefer loads start by doing your research on what it takes to run a reefer trailer. Talk to other truckers who haul reefer loads to find out what tips they bring to the table. As a reefer trailer is just another haul type you may be able to secure a few reefer loads at your existing trucking company, if there is the trailer available for rent or access. This can give you some experience hauling reefer loads so you can figure out if this is where you want to take your trucking career next.

As hauling reefer loads requires more dedication and attention you stand to make more money with reefer loads. Therefore it’s worth the extra effort to try and make this type of trucking job work for you.

Do you haul reefer loads, and if so what is your professional opinion of this haul type? If you have any advice for rookie truckers who are interested in hauling refrigerated trucking loads please share! You may help a fellow trucker find the truck driving path that will benefit them professionally.

Big Plans: Schneider National Will Go Public in 2017

Schneider Trucker Driving on County RoadNext year marks grand changes for Schneider National. This trucking company, which was established in 1935, will ring in the New Year with major sites in its focus. By going public Schneider will become a tradable company on the New York Stock Exchange. Rather than being owned by its company drivers or a single entity, Schneider will belong to those who own the greatest shares of stock. By going public this could be the downfall of this trucking company if we were to hit another recession or stock market crash. However, things are looking up for trucking stock, and Schneider is positioned to take advantage of the upswing.

Keeping Up with the Competition

Schneider National isn’t the first trucking company to take the public path. Several of Schneider’s biggest competitors have already gone public including JB Hunt, Swift Transportation and Werner Enterprises. Each of these companies saw major gains on the stock market in 2016, which is a positive note for Schneider. Trucking stock is climbing thanks to the increased application of technology in the trucking sector. From the mandate for e-log devices that are purported to improve truck driver safety, to the advent of automated trucks that will pretty much drive themselves, improvements in trucking benefits companies like Schneider National.

Financial Gain for Schneider Stock

Trucking companies that go public do so for good reason. For starters, when a company goes public their stock can increase, or decrease, according to the economic climate. When stock increases it becomes more valuable financially for investors. It also showcases the wealth of the company and increases its value for clients. For instance, shipping clients who are thinking of using Schneider National for all of their freight hauling can tell from the stock history of the company whether or not they are making the best decision.

For Schneider company drivers there is also the added bonus of being in better financial shape. A well-managed trucking company with a healthy standing on the stock market is considered to be a reputable business. When you are driving for a trucking company that is worth more on the stock market this equates to greater positioning for future trucking jobs.

Furthermore if you have invested in the stock of that company, you are going to make more money as a trucker. At the very least you would want to take out a retirement account with stock options as a driver at Schneider National. As this option becomes available to truckers at Schneider they’ll be able to increase the amount of money they are earning in their retirement portfolio. Everyone wants to earn more for their retirement, and stock options offers exponential growth.

Reality of Schneider’s Stock Option

There is the chance that Schneider National will back out and not go public in 2017. However, as the largest privately owned carrier in the US there is little doubt that Schneider will press forward with going public. More specifically, in an interview published by CCJ Schneider states that the move toward going public will “facilitate continuity of controlling ownership of Schneider by the future generations of the Schneider family, while continuing forward with its long-standing, independent and professional, corporate governance structure.” So keep an eye out for Schneider on the NYSE to see how this trucking company will do when they become a publicly traded trucking carrier.

Here’s What We Know About What Uber Wants to Do in Trucking

Uber Otto Self Driving TruckIn 20 years you won’t recognize the trucking industry from where it is today. Thanks to automated trucking big rigs are going to get quite the overhaul. Tack in the advent of other technologies we haven’t even heard of yet, and we can only imagine what the world of trucking will be like for the next generation of truck drivers. Along this path is the Uberization of the trucking industry. What exactly does Uber plan to do with trucking and what can truck drivers expect from this social driving program?

Our first glimpse of what is to come started when Uber and Otto, a self driving tech company, got together. Uber, which is allows anyone with a car and license to play taxi driver for a wage, is taking Otto and running with it. The initial plan for this partnership was to provide semi trucks with self driving technology.

However, we should have been more on task in thinking that Uber would go further than that. After all, Uber is all about networking for drivers. As it turns out this is exactly what Uber-Otto will be doing, creating a network for self driving trucks and their drivers, or shall we say operators.

Uber-Otto Plays Dispatcher

From the looks of things Uber-Otto is investing in all sorts of technologies that will apply to the trucking industry. Navigational tools, mapping systems, and tracking devices are part of this plan. Combining these with self driving systems will give Uber-Otto the capacity to create automated big rigs that operate on the brokerage level.

If all goes as planned Uber-Otto will be able to develop semi trucks that drive themselves along routes that take the truck from delivery point to delivery point. Every aspect from dispatching loads to picking up deliveries at loading docks will be managed by an automated system. All a trucker will have to do is control the computerized panel.

Competition for Brokers

We already have online brokers who have upped the ante in terms of finding trucking loads for drivers. You can go online and find trucking jobs that match your route and haul type. So what Uber-Otto is working on isn’t too far out in left field. In fact, it might be scary to think about now, but it’s entirely feasible.

Can you imagine a trucking industry where everything is operated via computer panels? Instead of using an old fashioned road atlas to find your way, a computer program will navigate along the most efficient route taking into consideration the weather and traffic. This is similar to the way GPS systems work already, so again, it’s not too far fetched of an idea.

What Uber-Otto Means to Truck Drivers

One key point to consider is that neither Uber nor Otto are currently operating within the rules of the trucking industry. This could be a good thing in that these companies are tech-centric and uninhibited by the current way that the trucking industry operates. However, when you are thinking too far outside of the box you fail to take into account key considerations.

For starters, even with trucks that are automated and dispatched according to a computer system there will need to be drivers behind the wheels of these big rigs. As the truck driving industry stands now, though, our drivers simply are not prepared to operate on this level. When you have a workforce with no postsecondary schooling, and a great percentage of whom are not exactly tech savvy, there comes a huge leap in learning the new way things work.

Given that this concept of an automated trucking industry is still a couple of decades away, there is hope. For one million truckers who are retiring baby boomers, there will be one million truckers to fill those seats. The newer generations are certainly more tech-aware than previous decades of truckers. So ideally we will have a more technologically capable cohort of truck drivers to handle the automation that will come our way.

The Future for Truckers

It is inevitable that the truck driving way of life is about to get flipped upside down. Thankfully all of this technology is geared at giving truckers better working conditions, and ideally increased pay. After all, when you have to take computer classes at a tech school in order to be a trucker you are increasing your skill set, which makes you a more valuable employee. Truck drivers may buck at the idea of getting automated, but this new mode of trucking offers many perks to the safety and health of over the road truckers.

Here’s where we want to hear from you. How do you feel about all of this tech talk in the trucking industry?

Listen Up! Podcasts Every Trucker Should Check Out

Flatbed Truck Driver in DesertWhether you’re hauling a load across the country or you have a local truck driving job, chances are you’re going to find that sometimes your in-cab entertainment options are limited. Constantly fiddling with the radio to find a great song or pulling out your tired playlist of songs is just not going to cut it some days. While the following list of podcasts is a great way to jazz up your usual routine, you don’t have to relegate them only to that usage. You can add them into your usual rotation for a huge dollop of fresh, never-boring info that you’ll love.

  1. Trucking Podcast

The title of the Trucking Podcast seems like it would tell all — except it doesn’t. Headed up by Buck Ballard and his son, Don, who are both truckers, the Trucking Podcast covers a gamut of topics that they think are interesting to truckers. These can include rat-rods, muscle cars, F150s and nearly any other automotive-focused topic that can be delivered in a family-friendly way.

  1. Ask The Trucker “LIVE”

Allen Smith is the man behind Ask the Trucker “LIVE.” Billed as Blog Talk Radio’s number one trucking show, it boasts more than 250 episodes that talk about those issues that are important to truck drivers. Careers, driver health, regulations and more are covered in episodes that hover right around two hours — plenty of time to get to the meat of the issue and not just skim through it.

  1. Trucking with Authority

Airing every Tuesday night at 7 PM EST, Kenny Long’s Trucking with Authority delivers topics that both novices and veterans will appreciate. In addition to explaining how to get into the industry, Kenny tackles topics such as compliance, record keeping, building customer relationships, FMCSA, effectively working with brokers and more.

  1. Let’s Truck

Kevin Rutherford’s Let’s Truck offers advice, commentary and news as it relates to the trucking business. In addition to new content from Kevin each Monday and Wednesday, you can also find other related media content such as blogs, podcasts and radio shows under the Let’s Truck umbrella.

  1. Trucking 101

Rick and Melissa Grim are owner/operators who hail from Amarillo, Texas. With eight years of experience that has taken them across 48 states, their Trucking 101 podcast enables them to deliver a deep reservoir of knowledge. Recent topics have including tips for winter driving, choosing a segment of the trucking industry to work in and the basics of a truck stop.

  1. Red Eye Radio

As the radio show that holds the honor of being the longest syndicated one for the trucking industry, the hosts of the Red Eye Radio podcasts, Eric Harley and Gary McNamara, are focused on delivering useful content to those truckers who engage in long haul routes. Airing live each morning from 1 AM until 6 AM, Monday through Friday, Red Eye Radio picks up where Midnight Trucking Radio left off. In addition to listening live each morning, truck drivers can choose from hundreds of podcasts and listen to them on demand. The hosting team also produces a bi-weekly show called the Freightliner Run Smart Hour.

Of course, these six podcasts are just the tip of the iceberg as far as the available content that is targeted toward truckers. With the vast amount of entertaining and learning that exists today, there’s no excuse for being bored the next time you’re heading out on the road!

CRST Announces Acquisition of Gardner Trucking

CRST Truck Driver Driving in DesertIt happens more often than not, a larger trucking company buys out a smaller fleet. In 2015 XPO purchased Conway Freight, and here in 2016 CRST is buying out Gardner Trucking. What does this acquisition mean for truck drivers at Gardner Trucking, as well as CRST truckers? Also, what kind of effect does this sort of business have on the trucking industry as a whole?

CRST Owning Gardner Trucking

CRST International is based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Since its establishment in 1955 the trucking company has expanded into the full truckloads and regional trucking jobs markets. As a privately held trucking company CRST is the largest in the US. CRST has distribution centers in most states in the US, as well as across Canada. In line with the desire to be the most powerful and productive trucking fleet in North America, and likely the world, CRST has purchased Gardner Trucking.

Based in Ontario, California Gardner Trucking since 1989 is also a privately held trucking company. Whereas CRST is the most prominent privately held fleet in the US, Gardner Trucking lays claim to being the largest full load trucking carrier in California, which is quite a feat. Gardner, however, has been a regionally based trucking firm with locations in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Texas, and of course California.

Putting these two trucking companies together increases the overall reach of CRST to include:

  • Nearly 11,000 total employees including independent contractors, company truck drivers, and office workers
  • An additional $400 million revenue, which will place CRST along the path to earn $2 billion in annual revenue by 2018

This is set to be the largest single acquisition in CRST’s history, and it’s quite the buyout.

Changes for Truckers at Acquired Companies

As a truck driver who works for Gardner Trucking you will see major changes in your opportunities. For starters, Gardner has been a regional trucking fleet based on the West Coast. Now it will include distribution centers across the US and into Canada. This alone will increase the number of trucking jobs and opportunities that truck drivers for CRST will be able to pick up.

Should you worry about getting fired? Considering that CRST is acquiring the employees of Gardner Trucking, it looks like at this time there isn’t going to be a mass layoff of Gardner drivers. However, you will now be forced to work for a much larger trucking company, and this might not be what you want. You’ll likely have a new trucking boss, dispatchers, office workers and fellow truck drivers to contend with. Also, as for benefits packages and pay rates, you are now at the mercy of CRST.

Keep in mind the average salary of a CRST driver is $37,669 depending on your experience and work history. Yet according to PayScale the pay rate for Gardner drivers is, or was, $46,143. That is going to be quite the pay drop for previous Gardner drivers if they choose to go with CRST. It will be interesting to see if the pay drop has any affect on the number of Gardner drivers who stick with CRST in the long run.

Overall Effects of Buyouts by Trucking Companies

As you can see the most immediate effect of having a trucking company bought out by a bigger one is a change in pay rates. However, there are far more issues to worry about. As these national trucking companies continue to acquire smaller, regional trucking fleets you are going to see a takeover by globalized trucking companies.

Consider the most recent issue over at XPO Logistics, following their buyout of Conway and other European trucking fleets. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is stepping up to support the drivers who feel that they are losing rights and benefits due to the acquisition by XPO. Truck drivers for XPO are jumping on board with the teamsters in an effort to regain their rights as truckers. We can expect to see both the continued buyout of the smaller fleets, as well as outrage from truckers who are affected directly from these buyouts.

When will these larger companies stop buying out the smaller competitors, or will the trucking industry transform into a globalized giant? Truck drivers who work for companies have every reason to be concerned, especially when you consider the vitality of the trucking industry. Our world as we know it depends wholly on the trucking industry for every type of commodity. Therefore the companies who have the most power at the top are the ones to look out for, as they could very well transform the market to their benefit.

How do you feel about big buyouts by trucking fleets, such as this? Have you been effected personally from a trucking company acquisition?

Best Truck Stop Chains Recommended by Diesel Mechanics

Water Tower for World's Largest Truck StopWhen you are in need of a diesel mechanic while over the road as a trucker, quality counts. Thankfully there are plenty of truck stop chains that offer prime repairs and maintenance for truck drivers. Discover where you should go, and how to figure out where to avoid, when finding the best truck stops for over the road truckers.

Go with National Truck Stop Chains

Why should you choose a truck stop chain for your repairs and maintenance as an OTR trucker? For starters these chains are affiliated as one major company, which increases their ability to hire experienced diesel mechanics. These companies have more financial capital to provide diesel mechanics with benefits and job perks, while also providing them with ongoing training. All of this equates to diesel mechanics who want to keep their job. This translates into mechanics whom want to do a good job on your truck repairs and maintenance. So where should you go for the best diesel mechanic service at truck stops? Start with these chains:

  • TA TravelCenters of America and Petro
  • Pilot
  • Flying J
  • Love’s Truck Stops
  • Bosselman Travel Centers

At these truck stops you’ll find highly skilled technicians and diesel mechanics who know what they are doing. Also most of these truck stop chains offer specialized services specifically for the over the road trucker. For example, TA Petro offers a roadside service for emergencies over the road. This in combination with their in-house repair and service shop provides you with access to full-service mechanic operations when you are away from home. For over the road truckers this is a major benefit for helping you stay safe and to keep on rolling.

When You Have No Options

Sometimes you will have to bite the bullet and go with whatever truck stop you have access to for repairs over the road. Let’s say you stop at a small no-name truck stop that has a shady, at best, repair shop. You don’t have a choice as your tractor-trailer is in need of repairs stat. So you pull in and get the service you need, putting you back over the road and on your way. How can you be sure that your service is up to par? What should you look for?

Start by doing what most shoppers do these days—go online. Do a quick review of the truck stop on the internet using Google reviews, Yelp, Trip Advisor and other public review sites. This way you can see what other customers have said about the truck stop for the good and the bad. You can also find out about the average costs of particular repairs, which can be handy if you feel like you are being overcharged for services due to being an out of towner.

At the end of the day when you are a trucker who needs the help of a diesel mechanic, and fast, you are often short of options. The key here is to keep your truck in sound shape so that you don’t have these kinds of setbacks. While accidents and the unpredictable happen all the time for truck drivers a regularly maintained rig will keep you ahead of the game.

Do you have a favorite truck stop shop that you would recommend to your fellow truckers? Or are you ready to warn other truck drivers about particular truck stops that have a knack for messing up and making costly mistakes on mechanic work? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

What is Relay Trucking?

Dart Transit Company 18-wheelerWhen it comes to finding ways to make trucking jobs easier, relay truck driving offers some relief for truckers. If you are tired of being gone for weeks on end, hate dealing with truck driver parking, and detest trucker detainment periods, then relay trucking might be the perfect role for you. Find out what this whole relay trucking thing is all about, and learn how to find relay trucking jobs.

How to Handle Relay Trucking

The main draw to relay trucking is that you don’t deliver your load from Point A to Point B. Instead your load is intercepted halfway by another truck driver who is set to make the delivery. Another driver for your company departs from one city, while you are on route from another, and you meet up midway. Your halfway point is coordinated by your dispatcher according to each of your routes. When the two of you are approaching your destination midpoint, you contact one another to decide exactly where to meet and trade trailers. By switching out trailers with another driver you are able to return back home with the other trucker’s load. It shortens your driving time, while also improving your route. After all, you are far less likely to get lost or off track if you are going back the same way you came.

Benefits of Relay Trucking

Relay trucking offers several benefits for CDL truck drivers. You get to sleep in your own bed, you avoid dealing with detainment periods, and you are still paid as an over the road trucker. Since you are home every night, for the most part, you get to eat meals at home if you choose, which can help with your health and wellness. You have the ability to stay connected with your family, friends and community. You are also able to exercise and destress by sleeping in your own bed each night.

For a truck driver these are all great perks to the trucking business. Other reasons why you would want to try relay trucking is that you don’t have to handle loading and unloading your loads yourself, as everything is hook-and-drop. This saves your body a lot of physical labor, while also saving you time over the road. At the same time you will likely receive a pay decrease, as hook-and-drop loads don’t necessarily pay the best for trucking jobs. Yet for most truckers having this option of getting good pay, while benefiting from more at home time, is worth that pay cut.

Companies Offering Relay Trucking Jobs

So where do truck drivers work who take relay trucking jobs? You might be surprised to learn that they are all around you. Some of the most well known companies doing relay trucking are UPS, the United States Postal Service, and FedEx. However long haul trucking companies are also into this mode of trucking including:

  • Old Dominion Freight Line
  • Dart Transit Company
  • CPC Logistics
  • DHL Supply Chain
  • Central Network Retail Group
  • Delhaize America

You may also be able to coordinate a relay team within your trucking company. Talk to your dispatcher and fellow truckers to see if this could be a possibility for your company. If you are an independent contractor or owner operator who is willing to relay with another independent or OO, this would be the most ideal situation. You already have more freedom as an owner operator or independent driver, so you could make relay trucking work more easily.

Relay Trucking Nationwide

As the truck driving industry continues to have problems with driver retention and trucker safety, it is important to look for alternatives to the way things are done. Take relay trucking. This is a solid alternative to the current mode of long distance hauling for truckers. It takes away a lot of the stress and personal roadblocks that keep truck drivers from being happy while over the road. If trucking companies are looking for ways to help make their truckers happier and healthier they should consider the use of relay trucking as a way to handle trucking jobs.

Do you have experience with relay trucking? Anyone with any success stories or issues related to relay trucking jobs? Do tell if you do!

FMCSA Eases Requirements for CDL-Seeking Military Veterans

Flatbed Truck Hauling Military TanksIt can be difficult to get into the trucking world. You’ve got to pass your commercial driver’s license exam, get a Department of Transportation physical exam, and go through a whole lot of paperwork before you are paid for your first mile. Now tack on the fact that you are a military personnel, either active duty on leave or a veteran. You are faced with a whole new slew of roadblocks that will prevent you from finding trucking jobs back in the states. Since you don’t have truck driving experience from a trucking company in the US, it looks like you are a rookie driver. What does this mean, and how is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration trying to reverse this issue?

Problems for Military Persons Finding Trucking Jobs

Whether or not you are in the military it can be very difficult to get that first trucking job. The main source of contention is that trucking companies require you to have so many months, or even years, of behind the wheel experience. If you have not worked with a trucking company, per say, then you don’t have this experience to report on your resume. This is a major problem for rookie drivers, and also the reason that more and more truckers are going to trucking schools that are sponsored by trucking companies. It is also a big issue for veterans who don’t have that experience, but whom have plenty of other trucking experience to their credit.

Military Experience Counts

For soldiers who were truck drivers in the military, they may not have highway miles to show for, but they do have real world experience. They know how to operate a heavy truck, they are familiar with truck engines and repairs, and most importantly, they know what to do when the going gets tough. Military truck drivers may not have driven a million highway miles, but they sure have driven on some of the roughest, most dangerous and least accommodating terrain on the planet. That should count for something right?

Then you have the military training that is provided to all soldiers, which has instilled hard work, dedication, commitment, and steadfastness in their frame of mind. All of these traits are well beloved by any company and especially trucking companies that see the greatest turnover rates. So what is the holdup on hiring these vets for trucking jobs in the US?

The FMCSA Extends Waiver Deadline for Military Truckers

The FMCSA is the holdup, or at least it has been on the account of requiring military personnel to apply for a skills test waiver within 90 days of returning to the states. This was a big issue in the past as military personnel who don’t fill out this waiver form within those first three months of returning home did not qualify for getting their CDL for US trucking jobs. That was quite a short time for these soldiers to take care of this business, which left most would-be truckers in the lurch.

For one, if you have been overseas for months, if not years, and you return to the US for some R and R, the last thing on your mind is to fill out that waiver by the deadline. In fact, most military drivers are not even likely to be aware of such a waiver until they start to apply for truck driving jobs. By then it’s likely too late for these potential truckers to handle the paperwork for the waiver. As a result of this short time frame the FMCSA has extended the waiver opportunity for 12 months after a soldier has returned home.

CDL Applications Online for Military Personnel

Additionally, states are now able to accept online applications for CDLs from active duty personnel where they are stationed at. States can also administer CDL written and skills exams to soldiers in their current state of residence, and then submit that to their home state in order for the individual to receive their CDL.

This is a huge improvement from before, whereas a soldier would have to return to their home state, which may be thousands of miles away from the state where they are currently stationed. By giving these soldiers a chance to apply online, it gives them a greater opportunity to get their CDLs without having to jump through hoops.

The goal is to get more experienced truck drivers behind the wheel of big rigs, and military personnel are part of the strongest work force we have to date. By extending the waiver for applying for a skills test, in addition to freeing up the CDL exam requirements for military personnel, the FMCSA is showing vast improvement in the way they treat military vets who are truck drivers.

Everything You Need to Know About Deadheading in Trucking

CR England Truck DriverTaking a deadhead load is a lot like doing nothing. Technically you are driving a tractor and pulling a trailer, so theoretically you are doing something. However, that trailer is empty and therefore you are deadheading. Learn how deadheading affects truck drivers and ways to avoid this situation in the future.

Financial Burden of Deadheading

As noted when you deadhead you pull an empty trailer. Since you aren’t hauling anything you aren’t making any money for your trucking boss. This means you aren’t making much money either. A deadhead load can pay, but it’s a fraction of what you would make had you had a full load. For example, here are some trucking companies and trucking jobs that pay for deadheading along with their rates:

If you deadhead as an owner operator and you are working as an independent contractor for a trucking company, then as you can see there’s a possibility you could make a little money. However, deadheading as an OO on your own means you are doing nothing but burning diesel and wearing out your tires. As for most trucking companies, they are set up so that truckers aren’t going to deadhead when returning back home. Of course, even in company driver jobs deadheading does happen every now and again.

Dealing with Deadheading

There are several problems with pulling an empty trailer. On top of the money you are wasting on fuel and wear and tear on your rig, deadheading leads to a dangerous empty box trailer. Essentially this will help you on your fuel economy since you aren’t hauling 30,000 pounds. However, it also makes your rig more lightweight and more difficult to control. You are used to driving while hauling heavy loads, so an empty trailer can throw you for a loop. Make sure to consider the wind speed and weather conditions when driving empty so you are better able to recorrect your rig if you were to veer off of the road due to side winds knocking you around.

How to Avoid Deadheading

The best way to avoid deadheading as a trucker is to have a load set up for your return route before you first head out. By having something set up for you to pick up on your way back home you avoid the risk of deadheading. Another thing truckers need to think about is not missing their deadlines. Each delivery that you are late jeopardizes the next pickup and delivery deadline. As a result you might have a load ready to haul on down the road, but you are going to miss out on it because of your lax scheduling. So guess what happens? That’s right, you end up deadheading back home because you don’t have any other loads around you can take.

When Deadheading is Best

Sometimes there are situations where deadheading is the way to go. Sounds ironic, since there are so many problems with deadheading in the trucking business, but in certain instances this can actually help you. For example, if you need to get back home as soon as possible due to an emergency, forget finding a load back. Just deadhead it.

You will save a ton of time since you aren’t driving on a customer’s schedule. You aren’t forced to stop at certain hours, like you would be if you were hauling an oversized load. Also you don’t have to stop and check your load, or strap and tarp it like you would with a flatbed load, all of which takes a lot of time out of your driving day.

Speaking of the DOT when you are hauling a deadhead load you are still considered on duty because you are in a moving commercial vehicle. So make sure to do your logs accordingly indicating that you have an empty load.

So what is your opinion on deadheading? Is this something you loathe, or are you secretly a deadhead fan?