Questions From A Total Noob

Topic 33506 | Page 3

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Dennis L's Comment
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I’ve been driving for Prime Inc for 14 months now. I did my CDL training with Prime and wrote 3 training diaries that you can look up.

I am a company driver in reefer division. I’m in a Freightliner lightweight truck (one person truck), so I get a 5 CPM premium over a full-size condo.

I started at 53 CPM. Current starting pay is 55 CPM (50 CPM Condo). I get 56 CPM base pay (48 CPM taxable + 8 CPM Per Diem not taxable), but my average with performance bonuses is 63.6 CPM.

I get 7 days paid vacation ($900) at 85k paid miles. I’m 5,900 miles away.

I wouldn’t call Prime a “starter” company. There are many drivers with Prime for many years. The Springfield Terminal has a lot of plaques honoring multi- million mile safe drivers. It takes 7-8 years per million miles.

Prime is predominantly a lease / owner operator company (>80%).

I personally prefer being a Company driver. I don’t have to worry about my operating costs, etc. Of course my upside is lower, but my downside is less.

Prime has 3 primary terminals in Springfield, MO (my home terminal), Salt Lake City Utah, and Pittson, PA. We have trailer drop yards across the country. I’ve been to to drop yards in Fontana, CA (near Ontario, CA), Dallas and Houston, TX.

There is a smaller terminal at Minooka, IL on I-80 that I’ve been to a couple times. There are other Prime locations for tanker washouts, but I haven’t been to them yet.

I live 48 miles from the Prime Springfield, MO terminal. So I park my car there while I’m on the road and park my truck there while I’m home.

That is not a requirement. You can can live anywhere and take you truck home on days off. Just need secure parking at home or near by.


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


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.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.


Cents Per Mile

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

Per Diem:

Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay


A refrigerated trailer.

ID Mtn Gal's Comment
member avatar

Fun fact: I think San Bernardino County is 2½ times bigger than the entire state I live in😲

RD, where do you live? Fun fact, San Bernardino county is the largest county in the United States. I learned that when I was in grade school in San Bernardino 😉😁


RealDiehl's Comment
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RD, where do you live? Fun fact, San Bernardino county is the largest county in the United States.

Oh, wow! Biggest in the country. I did not know that. I live in South Jersey. I'm about 10 miles from the NJ side of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

I just looked it up:

San Bernardino is 20,105m²

NJ is 8,722m²

BK's Comment
member avatar

Dennis, you said that Prime is more than 80% lease operator and owner operator? Am I understanding that correctly? That surprises me because I thought Prime predominately employed company drivers.


Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
That surprises me

In my best Gomer Pyle voice... "Surpriiiiise, Surpriiiiise!"

Prime's original business model was 100% lease and owner operators. I can't remember for sure when that changed, but they've always relied heavily on that model. It is an effective way to control unexpected expenses cutting into your bottom line.

Who can argue with their approach? Convince the drivers that you are being benevolent and allowing them to make more money by leasing and it becomes an easier way to make it in this crazy volatile business. The drivers get hooked in by those big checks, and the company knows exactly what their margins are.

Unfortunately those checks the drivers are depositing are not really "paychecks." They are "revenue" checks containing funds that are actually other people's money.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I’ve been following this post for a few days now Charles. I agree 100% with the experienced mindshare of this forum. I hope you are using it to assemble your war chest of knowledge. It will serve you well.

Some context, I was trained by Swift and drove for them about 8 years. Point is, Swift falls into your definition of “starter company”. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with them and wouldn’t change anything. I was treated like gold.

At no time before or during my training period with them and throughout the first couple years of my tenure, did I consider going to another company.

I’ll offer the following piece of advice…if you are accepted into Primes program, commit 100% of your efforts and mental capacity to learn this craft and work towards top performance. Thinking beyond the first couple of months is futile…waste of time and energy.

Bluntly put; at this point in time you do not know enough about this industry and career path to evaluate and consider your options a year or two from now.

Walk before you run. Best of luck to you.


Operating While Intoxicated

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