Judge Blocks AB5 from California Trucking

For those working as independent contractors in California, a lot of news has been swirling around in regards to their worker classification with their clients. From graphic designers to business consultants, a lot of professionals have had to rethink the way they operate under the new AB5 regulation passed at the end of 2019.

But quite possibly the biggest industry impacted by the new bill is the trucking industry, which is literally driven by independent trucking professionals who take one-off jobs delivering payloads from one destination to the next throughout the state. And since California’s economy is fueled by trade and commerce trucked along its highways, AB5 brought plenty of controversy with it.

Now, trucking companies and professionals in the industry can breathe a little easier as a federal judge has extended a temporary restraining order keeping officials from enforcing the terms of AB5.

Truckers Find Support

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez listened to arguments but didn’t issue a full decision in regards to how AB5 will impact those in the industry. Instead, Benitez extended the temporary restraining order that was put in motion on December 31 and will be in effect until he makes a full-on decision on the preliminary injunction, which could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Some who oppose AB5 say it unfairly hinders trucking professionals and the companies they work for, affecting everything from tax classification to benefits to commercial truck insurance. Some go even further, pointing out that it may have major constitutional issues in terms of how it impacts goods moved not only throughout California but the entire country.

The ABCs of AB5

The California Trucking Association filed a lawsuit challenging AB5 back in November. The new law put into motion a strict ABC test in order to determine the validity of independent contractors and their relationships with clients, such as trucking companies who hire out truckers. One of the requirements prohibited companies from using independent contractors unless the worker was performing work outside the usual course of the hiring company’s business.

CTA stated that AB5 is preempted by the commerce clauses in the U.S. Constitution and comes in conflict with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act as well as the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994, which bans states from enacting laws that have an effect on a motor carrier’s prices or services.

However, while this may be a small victory for trucking professionals and organizations like the CTA, the state government is making efforts to enforce AB5. Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2020 budget includes $20 million in additional funding to make sure AB5 is enforced.

But Newsom and other lawmakers are fighting adversity on multiple fronts as the Western States Trucking Association also filed a complementary suit focused on Ab5 and how it treats motor carriers that provide trucking services. And creative professionals, including freelance writers and photographers, filed their own suit in December, alleging that the new bill restricts the media.

And in a state where technology is not only born (i.e. Silicon Valley startup culture) but fuels the economy, it’s no surprise that app-based tech companies such as Uber and Postmates, which run on the efforts of independent contractors, have filed a similar suit of their own.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is Now in Play: What to Know

Beginning Monday, January 6, the federal government has begun overseeing how fleets perform background checks on prospective employees and owner-operators within the trucking industry. Under the banner of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a database of drivers who have failed or refused a drug test at some point in their job search in the industry will be stored and curated. 

Fleets of all sizes will be required to input this information into the database for all new driver hires as well as on a yearly basis for existing drivers.

The Clearinghouse was set up to help trucking companies be safe from hiring employees who have been hit with fines and violations in the past related to drug and alcohol offenses. While having resources to tap into, such as commercial truck insurance to provide the funds needed for legal coverage and settlements, is important, it’s even more important to avoid major fees and violations by staying true to the law at hand.

If trucking companies violate these terms and regulations, it can spell major legal trouble for them as well as reputationally.

Here’s a better look at what to expect from the new Clearinghouse requirements.

Current Requirements

Fleets currently are required to call prospective drivers’ prior fleets in order to perform thorough background checks. The fleets are required by law to perform this contact to inquire about failed drug tests. However, there have been some discrepancies in the past that have left the door open for drivers with checkered pasts to get back behind the wheel and possibly cause more trouble.

Fleets can skip over making this kind of inquiry and not be held accountable. What’s more, a prior employer might not provide truthful information regarding the driver in question.

Beginning on January 6, information on drivers will be available, showing drivers who have been cited for violating alcohol laws specific to trucking. There will also be information and resources available on whether a driver has completed the correct return-to-duty process after a positive drug test.

One-Truck Contractors

Independent owner-operators have always been required to participate in a drug-testing program or another third-party administrator program. With the new Clearinghouse rules, these operators will need to register as a company instead, and need to designate a consortium to handle the annual queries required by all CDL holders.

Drug testers will be responsible for inputting any positive drug tests into the new system.

Leased Owner-Operators

These professionals will need to create a clearinghouse account, although it’s not required. But any truck driver will need an account to switch between fleets due to the new fleet needing to inquire about that record specifically. Having an account will help the driver ensure there’s no mistakes or inaccurate information on their record.

When switching between carriers, leased owner-operators will need to authorize fleets to run a query on their CDL within the clearinghouse database.

Small-Fleet

Full compliance with clearinghouse regulations is mandatory, no matter the size of the fleet. Even small, two-truck fleets will have to comply by performing a full query on every new driver. Small fleets will have to register as an employer in the database and purchase queries at $1.25 apiece. These small carriers can take care of the administrative duties either in-house or through third-party outsourced drug screenings.

By the beginning of the new rules on January 6, fleet policies must post that any positive drug tests, refusals, and alcohol violations will be submitted into the clearinghouse database.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

California Truckers Protested AB 5 Last Month

Earlier this year, the state of California set into motion a new piece of legislation aimed at redefining independent contractors, a rising professional landscape in a state where freight, trucking, and the gig economy are growing. Known as the “gig worker bill,” this puts truck drivers in a bad spot because under a new worker classification test (ABC Test), a worker is presumed to be an employee, putting the burden on the company that hires them out.

This has upset everything from commercial truck insurance policies, such as truck liability, to Uber drivers to the future status of trucking commodities across the state. More specifically, it’s caused truck drivers to speak out in protest due to its limiting of independent contractors.

In fact, truck drivers took to the streets in November, protesting the new legislation and how it’s affected their hauls from Oakland to Los Angeles to the ports of San Francisco and Long Beach. Truck horns and chants could be heard at all these locations last month, as dozens of truck owner-operators gathered together to protect the gig-work law, which could take away their independent contractor status and, in turn, hurt their potential to be their own boss and earn higher wages.

Set to take effect on January 1, 2020, the AB5 bill creates more challenges for classifying someone as a contractor unless they are free from a company’s control and have their own independent enterprise doing the same kind of work. Protests were coordinated throughout the state by many trucking professionals who feel they are being mistreated by the state. The effort has no affiliation with a specific association, but has picked up steam throughout the state.

Currently, there are more than 70,000 drivers who choose to work as independent operators in the state because of the freedom given to them through the work-model that has been in place for decades. These workers are campaigning for an amendment to the AB5 bill, allowing them to work as independent contractors and set their own hours and earn more compensation.

The state is currently in a shortfall of employee drivers and barring the use of independent operators can only hurt the situation, some say. Some companies are considering separating their brokerage operations from their trucking business. This would make carriers responsible for handling operations with owner-operators through the broker.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

California Courts Declare Dynamex Ruling Applies Retroactively

In California, the state’s Court of Appeal came to the conclusion that the state’s Supreme Court Dynamex decision was to be applied retroactively. The original case from earlier in the year spun off into legislation known as the AB5 bill, which limits the use of classifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees by companies in the state. For those in the trucking and freight industry, it has been anything but well-received as protests have even been planned out in response to the legislation.

The fallout from the Court of Appeal’s decision outlines that employers who rely on independent contractors may now be subject to potential liability claims for wage and hour disputes based on a legal standard that did not exist before April 2018.

For Dynamex, the California Supreme Court brought on a new test to determine whether a worker is considered an employee or an independent contractor. The new test added two new requirements that an employer must meet to establish the worker is, in fact, an independent contractor. To no surprise, employers are arguing that the new standard should only be applied moving forward.

Regardless of how it’s applied, the legislation is causing confusion around how employers should provide or pursue getting commercial truck insurance. Commercial truck insurance has policy limits that apply to specified workers, and having different or fluid classifications is hard to grasp.

In another case in the state, Gonzales v. San Gabriel Transit, Inc., a transportation driver brought a class-action suit on behalf of himself and other freight drivers, expressing that they were misclassified as independent contractors rather than full-on employees. The issue on appeal zeroed-in on whether or not the claim was suitable for class action certification. And while the transit company in question didn’t bring up the issue on appeal, the Court of Appeal initially considered if the Dynamex rule applied retroactively.

In this case, the court concluded that the Dynamex decision indeed applied retroactively based on the fact that it did not establish a new standard. Employers now have potential risk exposure that goes back years now following the decision (the limit is four years as this is the maximum statute of limitations for wage and hour claims).

Now, trucking companies and professionals in the industry are looking to January 1, 2020, the date that the AB-5 bill, spun out from the Dynamex court decision, will take effect. The bill expands on Dynamex, applying the test to all claims coming out of the Labor Code of California. The difference being that the Dynamex decision has been seen as only applying to claims coming from California Wage Orders.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

Recent Bills Create Trouble for California Truckers

California Governor Gavin Newsom has been busy this year with deploying new state government bills surrounding truckers and other contract workers in the state. This fall, Newsom signed three bills into law that add more to the state’s hold on the trucking industry, adding more regulatory costs and compliance burdens on companies of all sizes, and possibly causing smaller companies to have to shudder.

Senate Bill 210, for example, creates a new emissions inspection program for commercial trucks. The law requires that a new Heavy Duty Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program for trucks and other heavy vehicles be implemented by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). CARB will also move forward with creating licensing standards for the inspection and repair shops throughout the state and oversee a new compliance certificate that truck drivers will have to keep with them in the vehicle. Additional fees will be put forth toward the new Truck Emissions Check Fund.

Clearing the Air

California air regulators have already put in motion that the trucking industry makes more efforts to be more energy-efficient and boast cleaner engines, cutting down on the smog. The Statewide Truck and Bus Rule set back in 2008 requires all heavy-duty trucks have new or retrofitted engines in order to operate on California roads. This major expense didn’t get a lot of legislative support, which is why the revised SB 210 bill was put in place to acknowledge the investments made by the trucking industry as a whole to upgrade the fleets on the road.

Trucking companies may now have to buy new equipment under another new bill, SB 44. The bill directs CARB to update its 2016 mobile source strategy to include a “comprehensive strategy for the deployment of medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles.” The California senate wrote out an analysis of the bill, stating that CARB will be making its own new regulations to uphold and support more commercialization efforts of medium- and heavy-duty trucks that help to reduce greenhouse gases. A goal that has been speculated is that this will prompt manufacturers to produce more electric or hydrogen-based trucks.

Jeopardy on the Road

The bill that’s been getting the majority of the attention in the industry, however, is the recently passed AB 5, which will essentially end the practice of truckers working as independent contractors. Trucking firms will now have to hire drivers as employees instead of contract workers, making them responsible for everything from payroll taxes to workers’ compensation insurance, commercial truck insurance, and paid sick days, among other regular job perks.

Smaller companies are already starting to see the squeeze the bill is having on the industry, with some having to close up shop or lay off the majority of their drivers due to the new fees. The cost of trucking is built into the price of everything that is trucked throughout the state.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

Fleets: How They’re Growing, and What Operators Are Concerned About

According to statistics from Government Fleet, smaller trucking fleets are taking over the roads, beating out bigger operations when it comes to picking up business. However, with growth among smaller fleets, a mix of issues such as training needs and replacement budgeting are causing a stir. Also, in the industry as a whole, a growing driver shortage tied with a surge in e-commerce is creating a major disparity in being able to serve customers on time.

As fleets grow and business picks up, stakeholders in the industry are scrambling to find ways to be effective and stay ahead of the curve. Here are some major issues operators are concerned about:

Driver Shortage

As mentioned above, the truck driver shortage is starting to be un-ignorable. According to the American Trucking Association, the industry is short on truck drivers by an estimated 63,000 positions. And even with a pay increase of more than 15 percent in the median salary range over the past six years, the demand for getting new drivers behind the wheel hasn’t been met.

To make matters worse, companies can expect to see that shortage increase, especially with an aging workforce. The average age of a driver hovers around 50 years old, and younger drivers aren’t applying as frequently as they used to.

Deteriorating Infrastructure

In 2016, one of the major campaign topics among both major parties had to do with infrastructure spending. It is clear that the country needs to put more effort into rebuilding our roads, bridges, and highways.

Safe and reliable infrastructure is important to the industry and crucial for trucking companies to be able to operate efficiently and safely. Efforts have been discussed to pump more funds into the industry, but there has yet to be any major legislation passed.

Safety

Speaking of safety concerns, truck drivers are witnessing a sharp rise in not only accidents on the road but fatalities. In 2017, more than 37,000 people died in auto crashes, a decrease by two percent from the prior year. However, commercial trucking made up 4,761 of those deaths, marking a nine-percent increase and hitting its largest level in 29 years.

Now, major distractions on the road are starting to influence these numbers as truck drivers and commuters are becoming more and more distracted by phone use. This puts a whole new layer of importance on the need for commercial truck insurance to protect companies and their drivers from claims related to accidents and death. While not everything can be prevented, it can be protected by maintaining comprehensive commercial truck insurance coverage.

Trucking Regulations

The laws and regulations affecting the industry are constantly under review and being revised. What’s more, different states see their own regulations change, like in California, where the recently passed AB-5 bill is upending what it means to be an independent contractor.

Electronic logging requirements are also starting to shape the industry as the electronic logging devices that are being mandated have been installed to help create a safer work environment for drivers. These devices help to accurately track, manage, and share the records of duty status of drivers.

Next, drivers are starting to see drug and alcohol sobriety tests be more intensely enforced. Updates to drug and alcohol testing, while beneficial for everyone on the road, including everyday commuters, can be costly, taking up space in an operation’s budget. Trucking fleets are having to find ways to keep budgets slim or even find room by cutting services.

One service that is being weighed by operations, but is still a necessity, is commercial truck insurance. Truck liability insurance should be kept as part of an operation’s budget outline and different commercial truck insurance brokers, like Western Truck Insurance, are able to provide personalized and form-fitting commercial truck insurance to fit a company’s needs.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Servicesis a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

AB-5 Signed Into Law: What That Means for Truck Drivers

This past September, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law new legislation focused on making things a little more difficult for independent owner-operators, such as truck drivers and gig economy workers, possibly even putting them out of business.

The AB-5 legislation originally passed the California State Assembly back in May and was passed by the state Senate on September 10. What it does is move last year’s Dynamex California Supreme Court decision into law, which established an ABC test to determine the status of an independent contractor that could essentially eliminate the owner-operator model in California, and disrupting everything from investing in commercial truck insurance, such as general liability insurance, and the sharing economy.

Taking effect starting January 1, 2020, those in the trucking industry could find themselves in the crosshairs. So, what does this all mean for trucking professionals?

Trucking Companies and Professionals in AB-5

While there is little proof that trucking professionals and companies have abused the independent contractor model in the state, AB-5 is still in place to essentially paint with a broad brush in banning the use of independent contractors rather than deal with individual abuses.

The state’s trucking industry has been trying to work with legislators to find exceptions for legitimate independent contractors who follow the rules. Many workers are exempted from this ruling, like doctors, dentists, and engineers, but not trucking or gig economy workers, like those working for Lyft or Uber.

The new bill does not necessarily distinguish between a driver who’s an independent contractor under a truck lease-program and someone who owns their own truck. Those opposed to the ruling argue that this essentially destroys the independent contractor model for trucking.

In California, there are more than small 136,000 trucking companies that are locally owned with small fleets and independent drivers who take care of their operations. This means that motor carriers and owner-operators are left in the lurch trying to figure out a strategy for what they can do now.

California is currently experiencing a truck driver shortage, much like the rest of the nation, but maybe even more so, since the state is highly dependent on the flow of goods coming from Mexico or Arizona. The new measure may aggravate the issue at hand by removing thousands of drivers from the road because of de-classifying them.

Currently, there are lawsuits that have been filed to fight the issue and look for ways to exempt these companies and their drivers from the classification. Additionally, companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, all dependent upon independent contractors, have invested in a collective of $90 million to bring this issue to the ballot during the next voting season.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

FMCSA Proposes New Rule to Increase Service Hours Flexibility for Drivers

In August, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a long-awaited proposal for changes to hours of service rules that would help add more flexibility for truck drivers on the road.

These hours of service rules, first adopted in 1937, specify the permitted operating hours of commercial truck drivers and have gone through multiple revisions. The newer mandate requiring electronic logging of hours that took effect in December 2017 featured some of the shortcomings in how these rules are applied in the everyday driving habits of truckers.

The FMCSA, through an advanced notice period of proposed rulemaking, asked for comments from the public on how to help add flexibility in realistic ways to the industry. Based on those responses, the regulatory body came up with a new rule to increase service hours flexibility.

What to Know

The FMCSA came up with five components to the rule change, helping to keep safety in the spotlight. Trucking companies can face claims from truck drivers if they feel overworked, leading to accidents or injuries on the road. Commercial trucking companies can take out commercial truck insurance plans to make sure they are covered in the event of a professional claim, especially with something like workers’ compensation insurance.

And while protecting against claims is a must for trucking companies, it’s good to know what changes were made to the hours of service. They include the following:

  • Changing the 30-minute break requirement to require a break after eight hours of uninterrupted driving time, not on-duty time, and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty/not driving status, rather than off-duty status. If a driver has to take a break to add fuel to their truck or use the restroom or grab a quick bite, that can count as their required break.
  • Allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off-duty into two period. This can include one period of at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than two consecutive hours, either off-duty or in the sleeper berth. This would allow for a 7/3 or 8/2 split. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window.
  • Allow one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but no more than three hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour on-duty window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift. This would alot drivers to take up to a three-hour break to bypass rush hour, without affecting their on-duty time.
  • Modify the adverse driving conditions exception, adding two hours to the maximum window during which driving is allowed. The current rule allows for that extra time but it still has to be within the maximum 14-hour workday. The proposal would allow that workday to be lengthened to as much as 16 hours in instances where things like extreme weather or major traffic congestion become a factor.
  • Change the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by extending the drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and lengthening the distance limit within which the driver may operate the wheel from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

The FMCSA expressed, through a press release, that the proposed rule wouldn’t increase driving time and instead would continue to prevent trucking professionals from driving more than eight consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute change in duty status. What’s more, the FMCSA says the proposed changes are estimated to provide $274 million in savings for the economy in the United States as well as American consumers.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

Trucking Through the Mountains? Make Sure to Practice Safe Driving

Anyone getting behind the wheel of a big rig, no matter if they’re a seasoned trucking veteran or a newbie on the road, needs to be on their guard when driving through mountain ranges of any kind. From slick roads to low visibility to other dangers like falling rocks, there are plenty of risks waiting around every twisting turn for truck drivers.

Slick roads, weather, terrible road conditions, and distracted driving can all lead to major problems, including accidents and fatalities on the road. It’s important for truck drivers and the companies they work for to take heed of important tips that can help everyone and everything stay safe through a mountain range.

Keep an Eye on the Weather

Before a trip into and through the mountains, it’s important to know the weather along your intended route. There are so many weather apps available today to stay informed and help prepare for a trip. Weather conditions can change dramatically, and unexpectedly, with altitude, If tire chains are allowed, or required, make sure to have the correct number and size of chains.

Drive Slow and Steady

Truck drivers should be extra cautious when driving up or down hills, and especially when the road becomes windy. Pay attention to grade signs as they are meant to provide the right information needed to operate the truck safely. A general rule of thumb is to travel down the grade in one gear lower than you traveled up the other side. When on the ascent, choose a gear where you can pull the grade without having to downshift and maintain a steady mid-range RPM.

Be Prepared

Truck drivers should look into the status of their brake system. Having a properly maintained brake system, including the engine brake, and tires are critical maintenance components to travel through the mountains safely and effectively. Most roadways will have brake check areas for drivers to pull off to the side and adjust the brakes, if need be, before heading down a descent.

Runaway Lanes

Speaking of pulling off to the side, truck drivers should take advantage of runaway lanes on the sides of routes. If you are losing control or have lost control of the vehicle on a descent, make sure to use these lanes. They are available for the safety of the driver, the truck, and everyone around on the road.

Keep from Tailgating

No one likes to drive with someone directly behind them, right on their bumper. But when it’s a large truck carrying plenty of heavy cargo, this is even more important to note. Truck drivers should be sure to not tailgate and stay back with a significant amount of distance between them and the car ahead.

Staying Safe with Insurance

Truck drivers should be sure to invest in effective commercial truck insurance which can provide the right level of protection following incidents on the road. Trucking companies should make sure to look over their current level of commercial truck insurance and adjust accordingly to keep trucks, cargo, drivers, and others on the road protected.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

In 2019, Independent Truck Drivers Are Earning More Than Company Drivers

Striking out on your own and working in the gig economy may seem like a risky endeavor for people working in tech or the arts. But one area where being self-employed is actually coming out ahead is in the trucking business. Self-employed truck drivers, also known as owner-operators, earn more per hour and work longer, or have more business opportunities, than company drivers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in a May 2018 report, the average truck driver salary hovers around $43,680 a year. The average salary for owner-operators, which make up about 11 percent of the trucking industry, comes in about 5 percent higher. Plus, in the spirit of making their own schedule, these drivers can take on more work as they please.

Let’s take a better look at what’s impacting this trend.

Trending Up

Among workers across all jobs in the industry, self-employment has been heading lower on a steady basis, even with increasing numbers during economic downturns when workers who are laid off turn to self-employment. Considering other factors such as age, education, sex, and family status, self-employed truck drivers earn about five percent more per hour compared to company drivers, bringing their average salary up to about $45,500 annually.

But factoring in more availability to take on more work and you have more earning potential and a more attractive opportunity for drivers to go out on their own. The income and hours advantage among the self-employed does not necessarily hold up in other industries that employ large numbers of employees with the same kind of demographic profile. Think mining, food service, construction.

Not Guaranteed

This advantage for self-employed drivers may not be a uniform opportunity for all in the industry. While it may be attractive to work for yourself, make your own schedule, and earn more money, getting additional jobs and a steady stream of work may not be a guarantee.

The best owner-operators have the potential to earn more money per hour, but some actually end up taking a loss compared to company drivers. The top group of owner-operators earns 52 percent more per hour than their company driver counterparts, which comes out to about $19,000 more. But the bottom level of drivers actually earns as little as 30 percent less than regular drivers.

What’s more, you have to be willing to work longer hours if you want to be self-employed on the road. On average, owner-operators put in an extra hour a week behind the wheel. It may not seem like much, but it’s the pace that drivers have to keep up with in order to earn more that may grind away at them after a while.

Also, there are risks built in when it comes to working as an owner-operator. Self-employed drivers are more exposed to variables in the trucking industry that could affect their opportunities and wages, plus they have to pay their own commercial truck insurance and take care of their own maintenance fees. If a mechanical issue arises, commercial truck insurance won’t be able to protect an owner-operator. But even with these risks, there are owner-operators willing to go it alone and boost their own opportunities. Being a self-employed driver can be a lucrative endeavor that also provides an enviable level of autonomy that others want.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.