Trucking by the Numbers: Cargo Theft, Operational Costs, and More

The trucking industry has seen a seismic change in everything from day-to-day operations, technology, and operational costs, causing operators in the industry to have to review their goals, needs, and finances. With a new year upon us, it’s important to look at the outlook of the industry and see how companies need to adjust heading into a new year and new quarter.

Here’s a closer look at the trucking industry and how everything is stacking up.

Operational Costs

According to ATRI’s newest Ops Costs report, operational costs in the trucking industry haven’t changed too much from the prior year. The average marginal cost per mile incurred by motor carriers in 2018 increased by a 7.7-percent mark to $1.82. Costs rose in every cost center, save for tires, with fuel costs experiencing the highest year-over-year growth at 17.7 percent.

In the truck insurance industry, insurance costs saw the second-fastest yearly growth at 12 percent. But even with this increase, trucking companies are needing to fit this expense in their monthly budgets to protect against costly claims on the road or to even protect them from roadside incidents, such as accidents or lost or stolen merchandise.

Repair and maintenance costs have increased by 24 percent since 2012, hovering around 17 cents per mile, even with an increase in sales of new trucks and trailers. Altogether, motor carrier operational costs have jumped up by more than 11.6 percent.

Roadway Incidents and Deadly Jobs

Transportation incidents have continued to rise in the industry, representing the most common fatal workplace injury. Roadway incidents involving motorized vehicles are the leading fatal cause, followed by pedestrian vehicular incidents. Increased efforts in the industry are in motion to provide drivers with the tools to drive defensively even with a higher rate of traffic congestion.

In 2018, the industry saw a two-percent increase from 2017 in fatal work injuries in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The fatal work injury rate remained the same at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time workers. Truck drivers had the most fatalities of any broad occupation group in 2018, and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers had the second-most fatalities.

Cargo Theft

The holidays have just passed, and numbers out of the season in terms of cargo theft are expected to be high, as usual. The Christmas season is usually the busiest time of year when it comes to cargo theft, and with a rise in e-commerce causing more trucks to be on the road, it’s no secret that cargo theft is something to be concerned about at a growing rate.

It’s estimated that about two thefts take place every day during the holiday shopping season, a 20-percent increase compared to the remainder of the year with electronics being the main target.

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.

Federal Independent Contractor Model Up for Further Debate in Congress

With the air of the recently passed AB5 hanging over California like a smog, and with executives from ride-sharing tech giants Uber and Lyft failing to appear at a Congressional hearing over lax safety oversight, lawmakers are turning their focus to independent contractor classification in the country.

Debates in Congress have been spurred on by regulations out west in California where legislation was passed by the State Assembly in May and the state Senate in September, outlining a way to determine the work status of independent contractors, such as truck drivers or ride-sharing drivers.

The hearing, which was overseen by the Highways and Transit subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee in October, honed in on the need for driver background checks for transportation network companies. This has all happened in the wake of homicides and assaults committed by people posing as ride-sharing drivers.

“It’s hard to imagine that Uber and Lyft didn’t actually show up here today – it’s really disrespectful to the committee and a bad play on their part,” said Thomas Suozzi (D-New York).

The Democrat from New York and his Republican colleague from New Jersey, Chris Smith, threw their support of laws requiring enhanced vehicle identification to make it more difficult to impersonate an actual ride-sharing driver.

Beyond addressing public safety issues surrounding independent contractors, whether in ride-sharing or trucking, Congressional members also debated the topic of worker classification, a big issue coming out of California, as mentioned above. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2020, and will lower the threshold in California for classifying a worker as an employee. This is projected to have major cost implications for everyone from ride-sharing companies to freight companies who hire truck drivers on a daily basis.

Certain Congressional members have shown support for the AB5 legislation, detailing its goal of identifying the difference between independent and permanent employees. This will surely have freight companies rethink the way they hire employees and classify them in their truck insurance options. This issue is gaining attention for its effects on Uber and Lyft in a state where ride-sharing arguably got its start or at least its growth.

The debate around whether or not to elevate stricter tests on independent contractor status outside of California, using the state as a jumping-off point, was also brought up with Republicans on the Hill shooting it down and Democrats wanting to push it along.

“I don’t necessarily think that this committee should blindly follow the state of California,” said Pete Stauber (R-Minnesota). My state is much different than the state of California. It’s much more rural, and I think we have to have a broader look at this issue the transportation network companies, and how we can serve not only urban but rural communities.”

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.

Ways to Improve Your Fleet

Managing a trucking fleet comes with a host of challenges for owners and individuals in the industry. From evolving technology to changes in legislation from state to state, trucking fleets have more than just the day-to-day to take care of.

There is a major amount of pressure that comes with maintaining a successful and efficient fleet. A fleet manager is responsible for purchasing vehicles, driver management, record keeping, and vehicle maintenance, among other things. While this can be a grind, there are a number of things that can be done to enhance the efficiency of a fleet.

Here are some things to consider when looking for ways to improve your fleet.

1. Insurance

First, it’s always important to make sure your fleet is running under the right truck insurance coverage. Having coverage such as truck liability policy and physical damage will keep your fleet covered during the time of a claim. Truck insurance is the first step to ensuring your company, employees, finances, and daily operations are protected moving forward. Not having insurance will open you up to major financial and reputational losses that could have devastating consequences.

2. Maintenance Strategy

Fleet managers need to be sure to strategize and create plans to make sure their vehicles are running in excellent condition. Larger truck fleets carry their own in-house service centers for maintenance to be conducted on a regular basis on their premises. If your fleet is a smaller business, it is more practical to hire out a company to keep your trucks serviced. No matter who’s taking care of your trucks, it’s important to get them taken care of on a regular schedule to keep efficiency up.

3. Manage Your Drivers Effectively

Fleet managers need to be able to communicate with their drivers effectively. Communication in the trucking industry is crucial for any fleet. Truck drivers need to be able to reach out to their managers easily and the flow of information needs to remain open and efficient. One way this is being done is by installing electronic logging devices (ELD’s) that monitor driver behavior; tracking if a driver is frequently speeding or breaking excessively.

Through ELD’s and regular communication with drivers, fleet managers can keep everything running smoothly.

4. Evaluate Your Assets

Fleet managers and vehicle technicians should be aware of the status of their assets. Beyond knowing your vehicle’s conditions and current service parts inventory levels, it’s also crucial to completely have a grasp on how every vehicle is used as well as how its components work. For this, it’s important to evaluate your fleet’s assets on a regular periodic basis, which can help you make adjustments to current business demands.

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.

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.

Intentional Pairing: An Operations Change That Could Lead to Lowered Trucking Costs

Trucking companies have been operating with drop-and-hook operations for some time hoping to maximize efficiency. But while many trucking companies stick with this method, there’s little focus when it comes to matching tractors. In a new report from the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), it’s pointed out that a change in operations to allow for more intentional pairing as it’s known could lower overall trucking costs and have more room for needful assets such as hiring and truck insurance.

But while it’s projected to help with efficiency and cut costs, some leaders in the industry argue against pairing, saying that while it’s a good idea, it’s not really feasible. Even with a net improvement of five to 10 percent, as stated by the NACFE, the case to change things up may not be compelling enough.

Studying The Road

In the study, titled “The Feasibility of Intentional Pairing,” the NACFE portrays pairing as a dream for engineers, allowing for the design of an integrated tractor-trailer combination to be operated in a cost-cutting way. The report, which spans 86 pages, outlines everything needed to change for a complete overhaul of how things get done on the road through pairing. Through a survey of 50 fleets, including big names in the industry like Werner, UPS, and PepsiCo, NACFE found that the majority of fleets operate in drop-and-hook with the focus on keeping the trailer in motion as much as possible.

The benefits of pairing would be on a sliding scale according to the NACFE’s findings. Fleet annual net MPGs would improve and intentionally pairing by model type would provide the best opportunity for gains on the road.

The ability to pull this kind of move off is still questionable as many variables are involved and would require a whole new way to go about moving freight around. From time to pricing to asset location, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to an issue.

According to the NACFE, a growing number of GPS tracking systems and more data does present a new opportunity for a more efficient asset optimization in certain applications of freight, such as shipping beverages around. These commodities already operate in a certain manner as fleets pair weight-reduced tractors with weight-reduced trailers to maximize payload.

Altogether, NACFE, concluded that intentional pairing, while a great idea, and something to look forward to in the future, is not a full-fledged reality at this point. But the new technology does offer up opportunities through asset tracking and asset management. With data available around these entities, including driver information, tractor characteristics, asset status, locads, weather, and routes, better operational decisions can be made.

By combining this with the vehicle data, it could allow fleets to match trucks to certain shipping situations. Lightweight tractors could be paired up with lightweight trailers in order to maximize payload potential, even if it’s resulted in a shorter lifespan for those assets. Tractors with down-sped transmissions could be used for routes where technology can best be of benefit.

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.

Compliance Requirements for California Vehicles

In recent years, California has seen a number of regulations change or be created in order to cut down on emissions, greenhouse gases, and traffic while boosting alternative fuels, for example. One industry affected by new rules and regulations is the freight industry, or trucking, which plays a huge role in the state’s economy.

Last year, California saw record-setting levels of freight-hauling demand and driver pay as trucking levels reached a 20-year high. From produce to animals to tech commodities, California sees high numbers of trucking freight hit the roads. But State regulations of trucking and bus operations are finding numerous ways to hit the trucking industry.

Here is a better look at how compliance requirements in California are affecting the freight and transportation industries.

Vehicles Affected by Regulations

The Truck and Bus regulation affects individuals, private companies, and Federal agencies that own and operate diesel vehicles that weigh in at more than 14,000 pounds. But it also extends out to publicly and privately owned school buses, even though their compliance requirements differ. Local and state government vehicles aren’t affected by the regulations because they are already subject to other regulations.

Heavier Trucks and Buses

Heavier trucks and buses on the road that weigh more than 26,000 pounds must comply with a set schedule by engine model year or owners can report to show compliance with more options. Engines made any time after 1996 should have an OEM or retrofit PM filter installed as vehicles made prior to 1996 should have already been replaced by January 1, 2015. The goal from the state is to have all trucks and buses driving with 2010 model engines by January 1, 2023.

PM Filters

Some trucking companies and individual owners have sought more information on PM filter installations. These are the filters that reduce particulate matter and cut down on smog and pollution. Owners who did not install PM filters before January 1, 2014, and do not use flexibility options are required to replace existing trucks according to their model year schedule.

Getting hit with fines can be costly and sideline a trucking company’s business altogether; especially smaller companies that can’t afford to have their trucks sit while they work on getting compliant, which is also a costly endeavor. While not all claims can be held off, there are options to keep fines low and representation costs minimized. Through comprehensive truck insurance, trucking companies can limit their exposures and make sure the increased values of their equipment are properly protected.

What About Lighter Trucks?

Lighter trucks and buses that fit right in the middle of that 14,000-26,000-pound window already had engine replacement requirements set on January 1, 2015. Lighter vehicles with engines that are more than 20 years old need to be replaced with newer trucks or engines, and beginning January 1 of next year, all remaining vehicles who have yet to take this step need to have 2010 engines or newer.

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.