Team driving or team trucking is a system where two drivers share the driving responsibilities. The obvious benefit of team driving is that drivers can cover more miles and can potentially earn more than solo drivers.
The driving skills required to become a team truck driver are the same as those for a solo driver. A Class A commercial driver’s license from a CDL training school is an essential requirement. Additional licenses qualify drivers for the various types of vehicles out there.
Sharing a confined space with another individual requires physical and mental adjustments. This guide on team driving is a valuable primer for those planning to obtain their commercial driver’s license (CDL) or those who have one and are embarking on a career as truck drivers.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a team truck driver is $80,674 or $38.79 per hour. Growth opportunities exist based on experience, industry, and location. The food industry is one of the top hirers of team truck drivers. Currently, high-paying cities for team truck drivers include Richmond, CA; Stamford, CT; Bellevue, WA; Lakes, AK; San Francisco, CA; Palmdale, CA; Santa Clara, CA; Hartford, CT; Pasadena, CA; and Glendale, CA. At the time of writing, there were more than 23,000 team driver jobs within 25 miles of Chicago, IL, on ZipRecruiter.
Factors to consider before signing up as a team driver:
- The fundamental requirement for becoming a successful team driver is to enjoy or get used to long drives, typically above 750 miles. You may have to drive coast-to-coast along pre-set routes. Many drivers prefer shorter drives because it gives them greater independence, earning more that way. Team drivers make money too, and they often do when the team consists of siblings and spouses. The pressures of long haul, expedited trucking are unique, and it helps when you ride with someone you’re comfortable with.
- Know that making good money as a team driver does not happen overnight. The learning curve can be steep or gentle, depending on your trainer and willingness to learn and adjust. There are routing responsibilities to learn and procedures to understand. An experienced team earns more, and you will have to gain such experience.
- Do you think you inspire trust? Also, do you have a sense for trusting the right people? Both these things are essential in team truck driving. Communication, safety, and adherence to deadlines depend on mutual trust between team drivers. It may be some time before you get comfortable sharing space with another person. You will have to put extra effort into hygiene, cleanliness, and organization. You will have to consider your partner’s choices in how you spend your time and maybe even where you stop to rest and eat. In short, there are compromises to be made.
- If you’re a light sleeper and easily disturbed, team driving may not be for you. You should be able to train your body and mind to switch off only when your shift ends. The air brakes can be loud; the truck will swerve, turn, and may lurch too. You have to get used to the movements and not have your sleep disturbed by the movements and sounds. The mattress may nor may not be to your liking. Your co-driver may enjoy music while driving, and you may have to put up with it.
What are the pros of a team truck driving job?
- Trucking companies are interested in maximizing their profits, and they do so by keeping their trucks moving. Team trucking drivers are the solution, and there is no shortage of jobs for good drivers. Trucking companies are willing to train rookie drivers by bearing the expenses of their CDL certification. Inexperienced and freshly licensed drivers have a better chance of landing a team driving job than a solo driver’s job.
- Team drivers are usually considered before solo drivers, especially for material that has to be delivered within the specified time.
- Team driving is an opportunity to really polish your interpersonal skills, learn to co-exist in a confined space, and gain empathy. If you can work as a team truck driver, you can pretty much handle most office situations. When you travel as a team, the company you have can make the long road seem less lonely.
- With a partner to rely upon, navigating challenging roads becomes easier, reversing or backing the vehicle can be done with greater assurance, and you don’t have to worry about leaving the truck and the load unguarded while you’re grabbing a quick bite.
What are the cons of a team truck driving job?
- You may have to deal with confrontations, sulks, and peeves. Your ideals of a perfect driving environment and style may not be in sync with those of your partner, and you may feel that you’re the one making all the adjustments.
- You won’t always have the same partner to drive with. Each time a partner changes, you have to recalibrate things mentally, even with clearly laid down rules and a sense of understanding that comes from experience.
- With two people in the vehicle, you may be forced to stop more often. It happens. This can put you behind schedule, affect your earnings, and defeat the entire purpose of team driving.
- The earnings with team driving are split. So, you have to put in the extra miles to earn money that’s worth the additional trouble of sleeping on the move and working odd hours.
Now that you’re aware of the realities that influence your success as a team driver, you’re better placed to make an informed decision. You can opt for a trucking business that hires only team drivers or join one that also offers the option of solo driving.