What Is Team Driving Like? Pros & Cons of Team Driving

by | May 31, 2024

Have you ever considered team truck driving? For many lone wolves, this is enough to excite them, but team driving brings an added dimension that has never before been this alluring. With driver shortages at their peak and regulatory pressures building, team driving offers a potential remedy with the ability to guarantee on-time deliveries and increased efficiency. This article explains what it takes to move on with the whole idea of team driving, the pros and cons, real experiences, tips to get the perfect driving partner and best practices to get into a successful team driving partnership.

What is Team Driving?

Team driving is when two CDL-qualified drivers share a truck and drive on a schedule, in which case one drives the truck while the other rests or sleeps, resulting in almost nonstop movement. This allows for the maximum driving hours, with the least amount of downtime, which is the most effective way to meet these tight delivery schedules and comply with the hours of service regulations.

Team driving is employed in all forms of routes in the industry, such as Over-The-Road (OTR), regional, and local. OTR team drivers ply over large states with thousands of miles to cover, while regional and local team drivers may work within a more confined geographical area. The basic core is, therefore, the same: two drivers who work together to keep the truck rolling and to deliver loads with optimal efficiency.

How Team Driving Works

  • Shifts and Schedules: Team drivers work on a schedule where they switch shifts, on average taking turns within a period of up to 11 hours, as expressly provided in the FMCSA stipulation. In other words, except for the mandatory breaks, the truck is always in use with one driver on the steering wheel and the other resting.
  • Types of Routes: Team driving can be applied to various types of routes:
    • Over-the-Road (OTR): Long-haul routes that cover extensive distances, often crossing multiple states.
    • Regional: Routes within a specific region, typically covering several states.
    • Local: Shorter routes within a more confined area, allowing drivers to return home more frequently.

Pros of Team Driving

Higher Earnings

One of the most significant advantages of team truck driving is the potential for higher earnings. Since two drivers in a team cover more miles than a diver working alone, in some situations, the added work might be paid more. Many companies avail themselves of considerable pay packages and bonuses for team drivers, making it quite a lucrative option for someone willing to share the workload.

  • More Mileage: A team driver will result in a much higher mileage reduction than a solo driver. On average, team drivers for Pride average around 21,000 miles a month, whereas the solo driver averages from 2,400 to 2,800 a week.
  • Bonuses and Incentives: Many companies offer extra incentives for team drivers. Pride has productivity incentives for going 18,000 miles per month that increase at higher mileage thresholds and can add $1,100 or more to monthly earnings.

Increased Efficiency

With two alternating shifts of drivers, the truck can keep moving almost continuously, within the 11 hours of the driving limit put forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, FMCSA. This saves time, as it will drastically reduce the number of stops hence reducing delivery wait time.

  • 24/7 Operation: Alternating shifts allow the truck to remain in service at all times and help minimize downtime between completed deliveries.
  • Regulatory Compliance: With team driving, the hours of service compliance are hugely simplified, and stressors are taken out with law abidance, reducing violations.

Companionship

For some, the only thing about solo driving is loneliness. With team driving, one gets a companion to be on the long haul with them, hence overcoming loneliness. For example, this can be a way for a married couple, friends, or other colleagues to be together not just living but working to earn a living.

  • Social Interaction: It offers the potential to share driving experiences with others, engage in friendly conversation, and generally share good times.
    EMOTIONAL SUPPORT: Having someone by your side on such a long road trip in times of trouble reduces the mental pressure that long-distance driving actually raises.

Enhanced Safety

Safety is most definitely one of the chief concerns in trucking, and our driver teams can add to safety in several ways. With two drivers, the truck and its freight are never left unattended, and the chances of theft or vandalism are lower. Besides, a co-driver is an added advantage where one has an extra pair of eyes to help in navigation, monitoring road conditions, and assisting in difficult driving situations.

  • Security: A partner can stay with the truck and its contents while the driver goes on a break, making sure it is not left unattended.
  • In hard situations, such as navigation through difficult routes or when the weather is not friendly, having an extra set of eyes can be of great help.

Priority Loads

Team drivers often receive priority when it comes to high-demand loads that require fast delivery. Companies prefer team drivers for urgent shipments because they can ensure quicker turnaround times. This prioritization can lead to more consistent work and potentially higher pay, making team-driving an attractive option for those looking for steady employment.

  • Urgent Shipments: Companies often assign priority loads to team drivers due to their ability to deliver faster.
  • Consistent Work: The demand for team drivers often results in more consistent work and income.

Cons of Team Driving

Lack of Personal Space

One of the heaviest cons to team truck driving is the always-lacking space alone. To most value independence, being immured in a truck cab with another person is difficult. This compromises a great deal on things that entail compromising, such as the driving schedule, routes, personal preferences, and even music.

  • Shared Space: Living and working in close quarters with another person requires significant adjustment and compromise.
  • Personal Preferences: Differences in personal habits and preferences can lead to conflicts and discomfort.

Sleeping Difficulties

Sleeping in a moving truck can be hard even for very light people. The noise and motion of the truck, together with the off chances of disturbances by the co-driver, may disturb a sound sleep from occurring in such a person. This may then continue into sleep debt and influence health and alertness in general.

  • Noise and Motion: The constant movement and noise of the truck can make it difficult to sleep, affecting rest quality.
  • Disruptions: Co-driver activities, such as listening to music or making phone calls, can further disrupt sleep.

Shared Control

In team driving, decisions about routes, breaks, and other aspects of the journey must be made jointly. This can be a source of conflict if the drivers have different preferences or driving styles. The need to coordinate and compromise can reduce the sense of autonomy that many drivers enjoy in solo driving.

  • Decision-Making: Shared decision-making can lead to disagreements and conflicts.
  • Autonomy: The need to coordinate with a co-driver can reduce the sense of control over the journey.

Compatibility Issues

Any team driving requires compatibility between co-drivers. Incompatibility can lead to conflicts, stress, and an uncomfortable working environment. The main thing is to find a partner with proper values, good communication skills, and the ability to work with other people to achieve their common goals.

  • Personality Clashes: Differences in personality and work style can lead to conflicts and stress.
  • Communication: Effective communication is essential to resolving conflicts and maintaining a positive working relationship.

Extended Time Away from Home

The drivers of the team generally spend a lot of time on the road, which is not appealing. This distance can separate them from their families because of time or distance constraints and have an impact on relationships, thereby leading to difficulty in balanced life on the home front. For maybe even the financial reward, of sacrificing personal time in an unconducive team-driving environment.

  • Time on the Road: Extended periods away from home can strain personal relationships and affect work-life balance.
  • Personal Sacrifice: The demands of team driving may require significant personal sacrifices.

Real-Life Experiences

Hearing from seasoned drivers can provide valuable insights into the realities of team driving. Many team drivers highlight the benefits of increased earnings and companionship but also acknowledge the challenges of constant togetherness and sleep difficulties.

  • Glen’s Experience: Glen, a seasoned team driver, emphasizes the financial advantages: “Solo drivers have to shut down for at least 10 hours every day. As a team, we can run around the clock. On average, we log between 4,500 and 5,000 miles per week, which translates to more money.”
  • Mary’s Experience: Mary appreciates the companionship: “I’ve made great friends through team driving. Sharing the experience with someone else creates a sense of camaraderie and makes the job feel less isolating.”
  • Wallace’s Experience: Wallace shares his difficulties with a former driving partner: “We just didn’t get along. It was a stressful situation that made the job harder than it needed to be.”

These real-life experiences underscore the importance of finding a compatible partner and being prepared for the unique challenges of team driving.

Choosing the Right Driving Partner for Team Trucking

Choosing the right co-driver is extremely crucial for a successful team-driving partnership. Personality, work style, and values must be matched before one enters into this arrangement. Before any team driving commitment, get acquainted and become aware of the other partner in savored conversations.

Factors to Consider

  • Personality: Choose a partner whose personality complements yours. Consider factors such as communication style, work ethic, and attitude.
  • Work Style: Ensure that your work styles are compatible. This includes driving habits, preferred routes, and schedules.
  • Values: Aligning core values and goals can prevent conflicts and create a more harmonious working relationship.
  • Experience: Consider the experience level of your potential partner. Experienced drivers may have valuable insights and skills that can enhance the partnership.

Matching Programs

Many companies, like Prime Inc., offer matching programs to help drivers find compatible partners based on core values and personality traits. These programs use advanced algorithms and assessments to pair drivers who are likely to work well together. Taking advantage of these programs can increase the chances of a successful partnership.

  • Prime Inc.’s Program: Prime matches new drivers in the Prime Training Program with an instructor or trainer based on a matching program developed with StayMetrics and Twegos. This program has led to successful long-term partnerships.
  • Other Methods: Outside of formal matching programs, drivers can find potential co-drivers through social media groups, company terminals, or with the help of a Fleet Manager.

Tips for Building a Successful Team Driver Partnership

Building a successful team-driver partnership requires effort and commitment from both parties. Here are some tips to help ensure a positive and productive relationship:

Communication

Communication is the base of a successful partnership. Be as open as you can with your co-driver; say what you need, like, or worry about. Often check in with each other or make efforts to ensure you are at the same level regarding any issues.

  • Open Dialogue: Foster an environment where both drivers feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns.
  • Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular check-ins to discuss any issues and make necessary adjustments.

Flexibility

Flexibility and adaptability are crucial in team driving. Be willing to adjust your schedules and routines to accommodate your partner’s needs. This might involve compromising on routes, driving shifts, and personal preferences.

  • Adaptability: Be willing to make adjustments to accommodate your partner’s needs.
  • Compromise: Find mutually acceptable solutions to any disagreements.

Setting Expectations

Set clear boundaries and communicate expectations from as early as the sleeping arrangements and driving schedules to personal preferences. With those expectations established from early on, there are no fallouts or misunderstandings later on in the relationship.

  • Clear Boundaries: Define clear boundaries and expectations to avoid conflicts.
  • Early Discussions: Discuss important aspects of the job early on to set a positive tone for the partnership.

Respect

Be respectful to your co-driver by considering his or her needs and preferences. Be nice and considerate toward one another and come up with solutions to the problems that both of you encounter. The mutual respect between both of you keeps a positive partnership that is effective as well.

  • Kindness and Understanding: Treat your partner with kindness and understanding.
  • Problem-Solving: Work together to find solutions to any problems that arise.

Conflict Resolution

Conflicts among partners are inevitable happenings, but how you handle them will make a big difference. Face with confidence and calmness all nuisances and work at it together for mutually satisfying solutions. Do not escalate minor concerns into major causes of animosity.

  • Prompt Resolution: Address conflicts promptly and calmly.
  • Mutually Acceptable Solutions: Work together to find solutions that work for both parties.

Conclusion

Team truck driving offers a unique blend of challenges and rewards. While it can provide higher earnings, increased efficiency, and companionship, it also requires careful consideration of personal space, sleep quality, and compatibility with a co-driver. Whether team trucking is worth it depends on your individual preferences and circumstances.

Team driving, therefore, can be satisfying as well as a lucrative career for those who like to be working, synchronized, with others and realize the advantages that this kind of shared driving responsibility brings. All these point to the fact that with the correct driving partner and appropriate guidelines on proper communication and conflict management, team drivers can fully exploit the advantages of this special driving arrangement.

If you’re interested in a career as a team truck driver, take a look at whether you’d be a good fit for the role and speak with an experienced driver. After all, team driving can prove to be a very profitable and enjoyable way to see more of that open road.

Recent Posts

WHAT IS HOTSHOT TRUCKING? IS IT A GOOD WAY TO GAIN EXPERIENCE?

Do you wonder what hotshot trucking is? Do you maybe wonder how to make a living out of that...

How Long is a CDL Permit Good For? Do CDL Licenses Expire?

How Long Is a CDL Permit Good For? A commercial driver's license is a very important credential...

5 Tips on How to Pass a DOT Physical

Navigating the DOT Medical Exam with a Certified Medical Examiner: Key Steps for Success A DOT...

Types of CDL endorsements: What they’re good for and how to get them

Driver's License Endorsement: Making Commercial Driving More Versatile Commercial driving is a...

Truck Driver Essentials: Must-Have Items on the Road

Must-Haves for Truck Drivers: Essential Packing List Many truck drivers agree that life on the...

Where do truck drivers sleep? And other sleep-related questions

Maximizing Comfort in a Sleeper Truck: A Guide to Restful Nights The truck driver is to cover...

Regional vs local trucking — What’s the difference?

Regional vs Local Trucking: Key Differences to Consider for Career Schools Trucking is an awesome...

Truck Driver Apparel: What Kind of Clothes Do Truck Drivers Wear?

Specialized Truck Driver Uniforms: Balancing Comfort and Professionalism Introduction Truck...

How many hours can a truck driver drive? What do you need to know?

How Many Hours a Day Can a Trucker Drive? A truck driver's life is full of long hours on the road...

Are truck drivers in demand? Why the industry needs drivers

CDL Driver Needed: Exploring the Nationwide Demand for Qualified Truck Drivers The transport...

Categories