State Of The Union For Trucking

I won’t say I am the final word for the state of the trucking industry, but I can give you at least some ideas for tips in making a few more dollars pulling freight and what to expect for this new year. I am seeing on our load board a lot of lower dollar freight rates, this seems to be a normal thing for this time of year. The one tip I see is, the higher paying loads are TWIC card required loads. Instead of $1.45 a mile, these loads pay a much higher rate of about$2.55 a mile.

I do not have a TWIC card and do not plan to get one for awhile. I have to drive over 450 miles round trip to one of the only offices that take the appointments for applications. Two trips are required to finish the application process, and that is just a bit to much for me and most other people. TWIC card loads sit a lot on the load board because a lot of us do not have the card. I understand the need for security, but I have been to ports that allow an escort service to take a driver in and get the loads without a TWIC card.

I have also seen drivers who have the TWIC card go through security without much scrutiny. What is the purpose of the card if the security people don’t even look at the card? More bureaucratic bullcrap in my book. As you can tell, I am not a big fan of government agencies controlling my ability to make a living in any way.

The one thing that we don’t have to put up with is getting a body scan when we go to a port, that would be the last straw. The post 9/11 world we now live in demands a watchful eye, but there must be liberty first and foremost. The terrorists want us to shut our nation down and long with it our way of life and freedom. This is not going to happen. Vigilance from every citizen and government agencies will make sure of that.

I got off on one of my rants, I wanted to just say that it seems we have made strides in our economy and are holding our own. The normal slowdowns this time of year make it hard to pay bills and put food on the table. Winter is one of the hardest times for trucking to make a living. If you dispatch yourself like I do, you have more choices on freight and rates. Forced dispatch on the other hand leaves no room for choices.

If you are a company driver, production is the key to paying the bills for both you and the company that you drive for. They will run you right to the end of your legal hours to maximize the income for the truck, they don’t always consider what you need or where you want to go this time of year. The freight is down across the board in a lot of areas, they will do all they can to keep those wheels moving and making them money.

An owner operator or lease operator can expect some higher deadhead miles. Be prepared to have some type of agreement with your company as to what would be considered excessive deadhead or bounce miles. You will have to look at facts that may control your decision process. Are you on a fixed RPM or rate per mile for a tiered mileage, example here, .86 a mile plus fuel surcharge for line hauls over 1000 miles? Figure in what they pay for deadhead miles and what rate. The old company I worked for payed owner ops a flat rate of about .54 a mile for those deadhead miles.

If they offered me a load and it was 450 miles away, I may have the right to refuse it. I have deadheaded a lot farther than that, but you have to figure what your time is worth sitting and not moving as opposed to taking the loss for unladen or deadhead miles. When freight levels are slow, some of this type of driving or relocation may be needed to keep the income rolling in.

Fuel prices have risen, with fuel surcharges calculated weekly, they seem to never be able to keep up. You have to figure that in many states the fuel prices will fluctuate along with fuel tax credits. Big companies keep this in mind, but they need freight to roll the trucks and their rate quotes are usually taking the larger picture in mind when figuring the cost to roll versus sitting figures.

Feel free to use my contact us page and ask questions, If I don’t know the answer I will try to send you to a place where you find out what you need to know. I do hope I helped out in some way.

Jim

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