The Eagles “Hotel California” about sums up truck driving. 

We are taking four abandoned trucks back to the parent company. 

   
 
Two of the four trucks had keys. We had to get keys made for the other two. 

Sunday in Rainbow City, Alabama we picked up the two white trucks. One a Freightliner and the other an International. Today, Monday, we picked up the white truck (Freightliner) in Fairburn, Georgia and the blue Peterbilt in Atlanta, Georgia. 

People get into truck driving for many reasons. Raised in a family of truck drivers and wanted that life as an adult. Having the opportunity to get away from problems and get paid for it. Trouble with that is…..problems only compound themselves and never disappear. Some people think being a truck driver is exciting and magical and they want that in their life. 

For those not raised around truck drivers, reality bites big time. 

Spouses call with home problems needing help solving them. Significant others, and spouses, want to know when he or she will be home. Missed graduations, prom, birthdays, anniversaries, school recitals or plays. Sports games the kids are in are missed.  Mounting pressure from the home front and the job itself takes a toll on relationships. 

For company drivers being paid 33 to 42 cents per mile, all fuel and repairs covered by the company, requires the pressure of 3,000 miles per week to make any money. $990 to $1280 before taxes and advances have been deducted. 

Drivers who take advantage of the Lease programs to be “Owner/Operators” get paid up to $1.10 per mile plus a fuel surcharge of a few hundred dollars. Their pay per load can be upwards of $1,500 for 900 miles. These drivers pay all the fuel costs and repairs.  

A company driver hears the fantastic sums of money made by the Lease operators and they want a piece of the action.  

Larger trucking companies offer this to company drivers. Larger companies know the failure rates are high and they take advantage of it. 

Company drivers that cross over into being a Lease Operator find out the hard way what is expected of them. All that money they begin earning doesn’t get invested into savings accounts for repairs, tires, maintenance, and normal operating expenses. 

A settlement check of $5,000 is like winning the lottery. Big screen tvs, new sound systems, a new car, other material trappings of the new rich is where the money goes. 

All four of the trucks that have been abandoned are because the drivers walked away from them. Just drove them to a sister company and left. 

Truck driving is a hard business. Long hours. Monotony. Always pushed to get to the delivery site faster. Get to the pick up site faster. Make miles. 

Joe and I are fortunate in that we are with each other. The down side is…..going on 38 days since we last saw home and don’t know when next we will be there. We have a mortgage that gets paid whether we live there or not. Electricity, cable, insurance, all have to be paid even though we don’t use them. 

About 5 years ago we met a Swift driver who was thrilled to tell us about his new truck. A Freightliner Columbia with 57,000 miles. New truck to him anyway. 

Joe asked how much it cost him? Answer….”I don’t know”.  How much interest are you paying?  “I don’t know”. How much are your monthly payments?  “I don’t know”.  The further answer was “they deduct it automatically from each settlement sheet”.  How much of your monthly payments are interest and how much goes to principle?  “I don’t know”.  And then the big question Joe posed. What is your pay-off date?  “I don’t know”.  Do you have a final balloon payment?  “I don’t know”.  Then the driver asked “what’s that?”  As the Swift driver walked away his parting salvo was “I don’t know the answer to all your questions but I do know this truck will be mine when I get done”.  

Five years later, today in Georgia, the same story plays out.  As Joe was relating our encounter with the Swift driver, the man in Atlanta said “I thought that was just a Georgia thing!  It is the same all over!”  

Do your research. Check out the major companies online. Find truck driving forums and ask questions about companies. Their safety rating. Their Lease Operator policies. Is there, in fact, real legal documents showing the cost of the truck including principle and interest payments. A pay-off date. What is the company policy on maintenance?  Do you pay a monthly fee for oil changes and all inspections?  Repairs. Do you pay the shop for the repairs directly or does it come out in scheduled increments of your settlement sheets. This one is the real killer that causes drivers to walk away from the trucks. 

The large trucking companies with satellite offices cross country have a shop at each facility. Lease operators are told to use the company shops for repairs.  US Express is one company that requests drivers use their shops. 

It is your livelihood and your financial stability. Don’t toss your life into the hands of unscrupulous companies that will get you in a Lease truck then give it to the next unlucky person when you can’t keep up the truck payments.

We have heard, more than once, the companies that provide the Lease option to drivers make a higher percentage of profit from the truck Leasing operation than they do on the freight they haul. We have no idea if this is true.  But…….

Operating a business, of any kind, without making a profit is only good for churches and charities. 

I think that is enough for today. 

Leslie

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About Message In A Fold

I am an over the road truck driver in Drive-Away Transport part of the year, and the sole bookkeeper of this operation the other part of the year. I do a lot of whining until I can get in my craft room and play with paper and glue. View all posts by Message In A Fold

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