Information about Drive-Away

The Drive-Away trucking industry is a totally different animal from regular trucking.

In Drive-Away you will not, as a general rule, be wagging a trailer around behind a semi truck and “bumping docks” as it is termed.  This just means to back a trailer to a loading dock to facilitate the loading or unloading of goods.

There is, however, a total separate industry in the Drive-Away business that is moving trailers around from place to place and this is known as “trailer transport”.  We do not do this type of work.  You are required to own a semi tractor to move their trailers around.  If you have questions about it you can check with Trailer Transit and visit their site.

In the Drive-Away industry there are three distinct ways of doing the work. They are:

  1. SINGLES:  Singles is when a bobtail truck is moved.  This is the semi truck tractor all by itself.  Some Singles drivers pull a vehicle behind the semi truck so they have transport to the next job.  Other drivers depend on public transportation, such as taxi service, rental car agencies, airlines, bus, or the kindness of strangers to get them to their next destination.
  2. BOOMS:  Boom drivers take two trucks, one facing backwards with the rear axles raised off the ground and they attach a device to the front truck they will drive.  Some Boom drivers have their “chase” vehicle, as it is called, attached to the front bumper of the rear truck and it is pulled along.  The “chase” vehicle is then used to get the person to the next destination.  My husband designed and built a special trailer to allow our pickup to be placed between the two trucks as we travel down the road.
  3. DECKERS:  Decker drivers have three or more trucks all facing the same direction.  The steering axles of the mounted trucks are raised above the frame of each truck in line before it.  Some Decker drivers have a ramp assembly that is attached to the last truck and their “chase” vehicle is driven then secured to the rear frame of the last truck.

There are some outside costs involved in which ever set up the driver decides to use.

  1. SINGLES:  A tow bar/hitch is attached to the front frame of the “chase” vehicle.  These devices come in a myriad of combinations.  Attach with a ball and hitch, attach with a pentile hook and ball, attach with a fifth wheel pin and is stubbed into the fifth wheel of the semi truck.  These devices have DOT Certifications and Specifications that need to be adhered to for safety on the highway.
  2. BOOM:  Booms come in an assortment of types as well.  There are “telescoping” booms, which in effect just means the boom pieces slide in and out of each other  for ease of use.  There is a “static boom” which is long and does not have the ability to decrease in size.  Then there is the “sectional” boom which comes apart in many pieces for ease of storage.   These booms also must meet DOT Certifications and Specifications for highway safety.
  3. DECKERS:  Deck drivers have an assortment of “J” bolts, or “J” pins, saddle mounts, and other equipment that is attached to the rear frame member of the truck it is either following or attached to.  Devices are added to the undercarriage of each truck that is going to be towed on the rear axle.

I have a very limited knowledge of the Decking operation.  Auto Truck Transport is one of the major companies that exclusively do Decking.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DRIVE-AWAY:

  1. Independent Contractor:  As an Independent Contractor you are, essentially, a business owner.  You decide which load you will take.  You decide how often to go home and how long you stay home each time.  This “perk” has drawbacks to it.  First off, YOU are responsible for all State and Federal Taxes.  These taxes are NOT withheld from your pay.  You will receive a 1099 Form at the end of the year from the company you drive for and you will need an accountant that is well versed in the trucking industry and is familiar with ComData.
  2. No Forced Dispatch:  Unlike normal trucking companies, you pick and choose where you want to be at any given time.  When you are offered a load you can choose to decline it and ask for something different.  The downside to this is sometimes there is a lot of “Deadhead” travel from one place to the next instead of getting loads within a 250 to 500 mile radius.  You could be driving in excess of 750 miles to your next job, or you could luck out and the next load is 50 miles from where you have delivered.
  3. No Local Loads:  This means that from the front door of your house to a local site is rare.  We live in the Oklahoma City Metro area and we have to travel to Dallas, Texas, Van Buren, Arkansas, or Kansas City, Missouri for our first load when leaving home.  Very rarely do we luck into loads that are out of Oklahoma City.
  4. Expenses Are On Your Dime:  Hotels, food, and fuel are your expenses.  There are some Drive-Away companies that reimburse you for tolls and permits but not all of them do.  If you are currently working as a company driver and are used to handing over a ComData type of card and the company pays for your fuel, this does not happen in the Drive-Away business.  You pay for your own fuel useage.  You will be given an advance on the load but that money has to be handled properly so you have enough to complete your entire trip.
  5. Advances Taken From Your Settlement:  Any advance you take against the load will be deducted from your Settlement.  All Drive-Away companies have this policy.  The least amount of money you can get in advance means that there is more in your Settlement when you deliver.
  6. There Is A Delivery Time Frame:  Just because this industry is a bit more laid back than the regular trucking industry is, you still have a “window” to work within to pick up the trucks and deliver them.
  7. Dealerships Are Not Your Babysitter:  When you are delivering to a Dealership such as; Volvo, Mack, Freightliner, Peterbilt, or Kenworth you are required to have your own tools and equipment to deliver the trucks.  If you will require a wrecker at the delivery site you are responsible for making the arrangements beforehand and not expect the dealership to provide a wrecker service for you.
  8. Logs, Mileage, and Trip Reports:  Unlike other major trucking companies, Drive-Away is not “paperless”.  You are required to keep all of your driving logs current and up to date.  You are required to keep track of all miles you travel.  Trip reports are vital in this industry to track fuel usage, any reimbursable expenses, and any repairs.
  9. Mechanical Breakdown:  If you experience mechanical failure while you are under load that expense is paid for by the Drive-Away company and is passed on to their customer.  This only applies to the truck(s) you are moving.  This does NOT apply to your personal “chase” vehicle.  Any mechanical failure of your personal vehicle is on your dime and is not paid for by the Drive-Away company.  They may choose to ADVANCE you the money to have the repairs made but that money will be taken out of your Settlement check.
  10. Escrow Money:  Each Drive-Away company has their own set of rules as to the amount of Escrow they take out of your Settlement pay.  It ranges from $750 to $2500.  Either a predetermined percentage per truck or load of your Driver Pay will be taken from your Settlement or a fixed amount of $40 to $50 per truck.  This money is withheld by the Drive-Away company and is held in a separate account that is not used for general operating business.  At least the good companies practice this.
  11. Accidents:  Most Drive-Away companies have a set amount that the driver is responsible for in the event of an accident with damage.  Most companies will have a Deductible of $2500 for each incident.  The different companies handle the deduction differently.  Some take a percentage out of your Settlement until the entire Deductible is met while others will charge a flat rate of $50 to $150 from your Settlement until the Deductible is met.
  12. Drug and Alcohol Screening:  All Drive-Away companies have a Pre Screen test that is done before you are actually hired on.  If you don’t pass the drug test you don’t get hired.  During the time you work for the Drive-Away company you are required to take Random Drug Tests.  When you are called on a Random you have 24 hours to complete the drug test.  Each Drive-Away company has a network of Concentra or LabCorp places they use and will set the Random test up near where you happen to be.
  13. CDL:  All Drive-Away companies require a current CDL.  For Singles drivers you are required to hold a Class B CDL.  For Boom and Deck drivers you are required to have a current Class A CDL.
  14. Cell Phones:  All Drive-Away companies require a cell phone that is active.  You are required to call in at a MINIMUM of once a day to any of the Drive-Away companies to let them know where you are, your estimated time of arrival at a pick up site or a delivery site.  You are required to call when you pick up and when you deliver.  You are also required to call the Drive-Away company when you are involved in an accident, have a mechanical failure, or are ill.

The Drive-Away companies we drive for are:

If you have any questions about Drive-Away that have not been covered here you can contact me by email at:

ljboknstet@yahoo.com


5 responses to “Information about Drive-Away

  • Lynn Claridge

    Wow what a helluva lot of information Leslie! One question I have that is probably a dumb one – what is the escrow money used for? Does it get returned to you?

    Thanks for all of this?
    Love and hugs
    Lynn xx

    • Message In A Fold

      No, not a dumb question. The Escrow Money is for the company’s loss against legals and license plates. Each person that signs on to a company gets a set of “Legals” that include the IFTA (Interstate Fuel Tax Authority) stickers and license to operate nationwide, state operating authority for the home base state of each company, liability insurance, and the license plates that are given to each driver.

      Some people hire on then quit within the month. When they don’t return the license plates and Legals the company has to purchase more plates and IFTA stickers which causes a whole lot of paperwork to fill out.

      Those of us that stay for years and years and years, when we decided we’ve had enough and want to get out of the business we are required to turn in the legals and within 90 days the Escrow Money is refunded back to us. Kind of like a strange savings account. Some companies return the Escrow money with the compounded interest, not many though. Most companies just return the Escrow amount and keep the compounded interest for themselves.

      Yes, I know. TMI (too much information) 🙂
      Love you – say Howdy to Rod for me

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