Top Driver Pay?

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Sambo's Comment
member avatar

Just wondering, but, what do you think is the most a reefer or dry van driver could make in a year? I know being efficient and knowing how to work your hours and being proactive will help boost your salary, but what do you think would be the most an average driver and top driver could earn?

I'm talking company driver, running normal OTR loads. 70k? 80k? Possibly up to 100k?

Is there any real money in normal OTR, or do you really need to get on a dedicated, or tanker or flatbed job?

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

For starters, there is certainly real money in OTR without being in a special division. Naturally if you can work your way into a special division with higher standards for drivers you're going to make even more most of the time.

I would say in the $70,000 range is about where you can expect to top off running OTR solo. You may be able to do that without being in any sort of special division. If you turn 12,000 miles per month over the course of a year, which is really hard to do, that's 144,000 miles per year. At 49 cpm that's about $70,000. Those are pretty big numbers, though. Turning 12,000 per month for a year is really pushing hard all the time.

You can also make that kind of money in a specialized division and you may not have to push quite so hard, but then again you might. The universal trait of what we consider Top Tier Drivers is turning big miles consistently and always getting the job done safely and on time. Anyone can be safe and on time if they're turning 1,200 miles per week. The top drivers are turning 3,000+ miles per week and making all of their appointments on time.

Anyone in a specialized division that isn't producing big miles is certainly producing big in other ways. They may be bumping 5 - 10 docks per day or they may be hand offloading the cargo.

Regardless, top drivers are always pushing themselves really hard. They're maxing out their clock and producing at the highest level. That's really hard to sustain. There aren't many drivers that can do it for long.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

You can hit those bigger numbers running LTL linehaul without having to turn as many miles. This is because of a higher cpm. I'm on a schedule run that is hitting just under 2500 miles a week and I'm grossing around 78k a year. That also means I'm getting home every day, having weekends off, and having my actual run only take about 10.5 hours to complete on a daily basis. Not sure if that interests you or not Sambo, just throwing it out there for comparison. OTR truckload drivers really have to work a lot harder and longer (on a consistent basis) to hit those same numbers, as Brett mentioned.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

100k is what our drivers earn on the bigger schedules of 640 miles a day at .6378 cpm.

I'm always quick to answer questions or offer alternatives to OTR / truckload jobs regarding maximizing home time and earning potential because that was exactly what I was looking for when I started out driving with a young family.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

LDRSHIP's Comment
member avatar

I have a question for you, 6-string. Are there Day out, day back kinda runs in the LTL world? Just curious. I am rapidly approaching my 1 year mark. My old lady is riding my coat tails about finding something local. I am not completely ready to go completely home every night type of scenario. I was just wondering if there are such runs.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier
6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

Patrick, a lot of it will depend on the specific terminal. At my terminal , everybody usually starts "bagging out" where they layover at hotels a few times a week, but they still get home for their 34 hour reset during their two days off. It's still a 5 day schedule. Then as you gain seniority, you can bid on runs that will get you home every day. Out of our 165+ linehaul drivers, I'd say 140 are home every day / night. I only had to bag out for about 2 months, and the rest of my time since has been home every day.

I'm happy to help you with any info / questions regarding LTL.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.
Sambo's Comment
member avatar

I see, so, the possibility of someone hitting those numbers is there, but from what I gather, that is really only going to be for the top drivers. I'm also seeing cpm numbers in this thread of .49 and .63 cpm. To me, those numbers seem out of the norm, considering most of your major carriers will start their drivers out between .36 and .43 cpm.

Also, raises seem to come at about .01 to .02 cpm per year. Does this sound right?

So, I'm going to guess that, generally, your average driver for a major carrier will be able to earn between 48k to 54k, after they have been with the company for a few years, and have learned the ropes. Does this sound accurate?

Just trying to see what the potential is out there.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
So, I'm going to guess that, generally, your average driver for a major carrier will be able to earn between 48k to 54k, after they have been with the company for a few years, and have learned the ropes. Does this sound accurate?

I'd say an average driver for most major companies, yeah, that's a reasonable range right there. I won't name particular names but I know of several Top Tier drivers working in dedicated divisions for major companies making in the $70,000 range. But they're Top Tier, they really hustle, and they've been at it for quite some time.

Auggie69's Comment
member avatar

I see, so, the possibility of someone hitting those numbers is there, but from what I gather, that is really only going to be for the top drivers. I'm also seeing cpm numbers in this thread of .49 and .63 cpm. To me, those numbers seem out of the norm, considering most of your major carriers will start their drivers out between .36 and .43 cpm.

Also, raises seem to come at about .01 to .02 cpm per year. Does this sound right?

So, I'm going to guess that, generally, your average driver for a major carrier will be able to earn between 48k to 54k, after they have been with the company for a few years, and have learned the ropes. Does this sound accurate?

Just trying to see what the potential is out there.

LTL is just a different animal.

When I hired on with FXF, for road runs I would get $.50mi. After two years now I get $.55mi. Plus drop and hooks, refueling pay, etc.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Sambo's Comment
member avatar

Ok, so let's talk about maximizing income?

Here is my story. I've been with my company for about a year. As of the last 6 months, my gross is about $16,000. To me, this is way low, and I've been trying to figure out what I've done wrong.

In the last year, I've been through 5 to 6 trucks, due to them breaking down. Each time one breaks down, it's between 3 to 5 days, working local runs in a loaner until they decide to move me to a new truck. Other times, I've had to go to the shop for repairs and it always seems that every time I end up in the shop it's between 3 and 7 days waiting for it to be fixed.

I've been dispatched loads to the northeast, and have a day, day and a half before they find me a new load. Generally, they have a pre plan on me before I finish my current load, but there are times when I have to wait. All of this breakdown time and waiting time is unpaid. Perhaps I should have been adamant with my dm about getting breakdown pay and layover pay?

I'm the type that I try to be easy to get along with, so, I try not to rock the boat and ruffle any feathers. Maybe that is just shooting myself in the foot?

I also have never refused a load, I go wherever, whenever they tell me. I had thought that maybe by being flexible and working with my dm, that good things would happen, but I'm not finding that to be the case.

I try to do the best job I can, and don't call my dm and gripe and complain. When things are rough, I try not to let it out.

The only things I can think of are:

1) I admit I've not been good about communicating with my dm about when and where I was. To be honest, I didn't even think of this. I would get a load and run it, and if I was going to be early, I would call the receiver and ask if they could unload me early, and if they could, that would be great, if they couldn't, then id sit and wait until the appointment time. Sometimes this would be nearly 24 hours.

I've heard some people in that situation would call their dm and try to get the load t-called, and have them dispatched on another load. I didn't even think of this possibility. Also, if I was able to deliver early, I wasn't proactive enough about letting my dm know I was unloaded early, granted, some of the time, I'd be unloaded really late at night and wouldn't be able to be dispatched til the next morning anyway, since, as far as I'm aware, night dispatch can't dispatch loads, only a day dm can.

I blame myself for not being proactive.

2) I always run on recaps. I've never taken a 34 unless it was due to breakdown. I'd run my 70 down and the run recaps and keep going. Im wondering if this is a bad idea? I've heard you actually get more miles by running your 7p down, then taking a 34, and then going again, but I don't know for sure.

In the last year, I've requested home time twice, most of the time is get home, was during breakdown.

So, I guess I have my answer, my low pay dilemma seems to be focused entirely on my lack of communication. Live and learn I guess.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

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