Team Drivers Offer Flexible Solutions for the Long Haul
There’s an old proverb that states: If you want to go fast, go alone – if you want to go far, go together.
That message may be ringing true for the trucking industry in 2018, as the ELD mandate begins to limit the distances and road times that a single driver can operate. As a result, many carriers are looking to increase the number of “teams” on their roster, and are willing to offer additional compensation for those who share the load for longer distances.
Under hours of service regulations and the new ELD enforcement, the most a truck can expect to run is around 450-500 miles on a typical day. With a team, a truck can push close to 1,000 miles a day. In the pre-ELD days, some independent operators could skirt around these regulations and haul the tweener freight (approximately 600-800 mile). Assuming ELD compliance and enforcement goes into full effect, an overnight load distance of 700-800 miles will now require team service to complete the delivery on-time and be compliant.
What Are Team Drivers ?
For those new to the industry, team service is when two drivers work in tandem to manage longer distances. This approach allows the truck to keep moving, running nearly around the clock.
This near-continuous operation is ideal for a number of reasons:
Increases truck utilization
Keeps the drivers engaged in tasks other than sitting at the dock
Offers a huge customer service advantage because of the distance a truck can cover in a day
Elon Musk reminded us a few months back that the vast majority of loads are short hauls. But there are a significant number of loads that meet this tweener classification that shippers have been able to get reliable capacity for in the past. In the new world of ELD enforcement, this will be increasingly more difficult.
The heightened need for team service comes at time when many in the industry have expressed serious concerns regarding the current driver shortage. Several online sources, including Overdrive.com, have reported the rise in demand over supply has resulted in larger sign-on bonuses and pay packages for drivers this year.
Part of the shortage is being attributed to the increased activity in trades that compete with the trucking labor market – especially construction, which is booming in response to the hurricanes that devastated parts of Texas and Florida last year.
The GOP tax cuts from 2017 have also led to a lift in manufacturing, which both increases the volume of goods to transport while possibly draining the talent pool of available drivers who choose to move to away from a travel-based means of employment.
Bloomberg analyst, Lee Klaskow, states: “We suspect capacity should be tight all year given the acceleration in economic activity and more competition for labor.”
As a result major carriers have been offering a variety of incentives to promote, attract, and entice the approach. Incentives include bonuses for performance, distance and safety, as well as coverage for parking and detainment times.
According to TruckingInfo.com, U.S. Xpress is adding increased vacation time, health benefits and 401K matching to make the offers more attractive. They recently announced the TeamMax Bonus program for current and prospective team drivers, which offers $50,000 in bonuses and up to four weeks of paid vacation in a single year.
So while the overall need for drivers is steeply on the rise, the demand for long-distance expedited team service will likely be even greater.
We at Custom Pro Logistics, have long recognized the advantages of team drivers for expedited freight. We have built many carrier relationships that offer this level of service to offer flexible and custom solutions to our clients in an effort to adapt to ever changing freight market trends.