Whether you’re brand new to trucking or you’ve been rolling since Smokey and the Bandit, you know that more miles get you more money.
Money-making truck drivers love being dispatched on those loads that require you to travel 2,000 miles in 4 days. That’s not always the case, however. Sometimes, you just get bad loads.
At times, the market is slow and there are no good, long runs available. You don’t have to rely on the luck of the draw.
Average Trucker Pay
The best place to get advice on maximizing your resources is the front line. Use these inside tips and tricks from professional truck drivers and dispatchers to start earning more money.
1. Use all your hours – Don’t “over-break”
Some truck drivers fully enjoy the rush of running the highways, maxing out their hours every day. Those drivers typically make the most money.
Some drivers prefer to take extended breaks, mosey around truck stops, sleep late, etc. All the time you spend idle is money lost.
There are 24 hours in a day. Utilize those hours to the fullest. 14 hours On-Duty followed by 10 hours Off-Duty, and then hit the road again. If the wheels aren’t turning, you aren’t earning.
2. Pay close attention to the BOL
One of the worst things a professional driver can experience is OS&D. Overage, Shortage, Damaged – This occurs when the freight amount is incorrect or damaged and the receiver will not accept the shipment.
Most trucking companies have insurance to minimize financial losses, but it takes time. An OS&D incident can stop a driver for several days while the claim is being sorted. When you are paid by the mile, sitting idle for a few days awaiting further instruction can cost a truck driver a lot of money.
Always read the Bill of Lading for every load you haul. As soon as you’re loaded, you should have a thorough understanding of the shippers/receiver’s expectations and condition the load should arrive in.
Being proactive can save drivers and their employers tons of money and prevent loss of miles and revenue.
3. Know your Route
As soon as you are dispatched, check your entire route for big cities, business loops, high traffic areas, construction, and weather. Identify potential areas that may require a reroute. Communicate your concerns about delays to your dispatcher or planner.
You may run into some unavoidable circumstances, like traffic accidents. In that case, your best bet is to wait patiently and keep your eyes open for unsafe and rubber-neck drivers.
4. Get to the Destination City
Even if there is too much time on your load, do not take your time. It is always a good idea to put more miles on the front end of your trip. It is better for a truck driver to knock out 90% of the trip on pickup day than have too many miles left on delivery day.
If you don’t get penalized for being early, go to the receiver and check-in. Chances are, they will take your freight early, allowing you to move on to another load. This can earn you extra hours to run more miles instead of waiting on your original appointment time.
If not, you should receive layover pay for the downtime. This will eventually show your company that you are reliable and always early. If you make it a habit, you may even start receiving loads with more miles and less time. You will start to get better plans so they don’t have to pay you a layover.
5. Plan your Stops
For those drivers who love to run, there is nothing worse than waiting in a long fuel line or being stuck in detention.
Eventually, the FMCSA’s HOS changes will allow drivers to take their 30-minute break while on duty. When in effect, drivers will be able to take their 30-minute break while fueling or being loaded/unloaded.
6. On-Time Delivery
You’d think it goes without saying, be on time. If you arrive after your appointment time, most receivers will consider you a ‘work-in.’ You’ll have to pull your tractor-trailer off to the side and wait for an opening.
Depending on their volume, you could be sitting for hours or even days waiting on an opening.
Being late can also set a bad reputation for you. Your dispatcher may start to give you low quality or low priority loads if you are not consistently reliable.
7. Avoid Obstacles
Try to find the most efficient and safe way to run your freight. If your company allows, request drop and hook loads to minimize detention. You are likely to be dispatched on quality loads with big miles once you’ve built up a good reputation.
Avoid deadhead at all costs if your company doesn’t pay you for running empty miles. Instead of running empty miles at no pay, request backhaul loads.
Always check to confirm you have enough time to deliver on time. You need to be aware of the distance of your trip, your route, and the number of hours you have available to avoid a repower.
8. Get your bonuses
A lot of truck drivers chose their employer based on the sign-on bonus that is offered. While that is a very helpful incentive, it’s a one-time payout.
When looking for new trucking jobs, look for companies that offer monthly, quarterly, or annual bonuses in addition to the sign-on bonus.
You could be offered a job with a small sign-on bonus but potential additional monthly bonuses for low idle time, high miles, safe driving, etc. Those bonuses could add thousands of dollars per year.
Most importantly, be careful. You don’t have to drive excessive speeds to make more money. Do your part to keep yourself and your community safe. Share this article with truck drivers you know.