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Driving as a Team: Pros and Cons

June 13, 2022

For many, part of the appeal of becoming a truck driver is hours of solo time on the road. But for others, it can get lonely. This is where team driving comes in.

What is team driving?

Team truck driving means there are two drivers responsible for transporting the same freight. They occupy the same cab and take turns driving. While one is driving, the other can rest, which means they transport the freight in a shorter amount of time. Each driver will have on-duty and off-duty shifts. Ten off-duty hours are still required, but drivers can spend up to two of those hours in the passenger seat, which means freight can move across the country with fewer stops.

Drivers will be paid for their combined mileage, then split down the middle, which means the opportunity for more miles than a solo driver. Many trucking companies like to have teams because it increases their efficiency, which means the opportunities for work increase.

Types of team driving

There are two basic types of teams: expedited teams and dedicated teams.

Expedited Teams

Expedited teams run about 4,500 miles a week and have the highest earning potential. It typically requires two experienced drivers (six months or more) and freight is usually very time-sensitive. On-time service is critical to success for these teams, as their customers are usually online retailers, health companies, and other types of retail.

Dedicated Teams

Dedicated teams run between 4,000 and 5,000 miles a week and have the benefit of consistent and predictable home time. Earning potential is good, usually between the mid to high range, and teams can either be two experienced drivers or one experienced driver with one new driver. Customers typically include major retailers and home improvement retailers.

When it comes to who is on the team, there are several types of pairs:

  • Spouse teams
  • Friend teams
  • Parent/child teams
  • Sibling teams
  • Matched teams (some companies will match you with someone they believe you are compatible with in personality and work goals)

Pros and Cons of Team Driving

As with any position and type of truck driving, there are pros and cons. Keep these things in mind as you consider shifting to team driving.

Pros of Team Driving

  • More opportunities for work. Because of the Hours of Service regulations, many companies prefer to hire teams. Trucks can be moving around the clock, as one driver can be sleeping while the other is driving. 
  • Beginner’s friend. Team driving is good for beginners, as inexperienced or newly licensed drivers are more likely to get a job if they have an experienced driving partner. 
  • Higher pay. Even though your miles will be split down the middle with your partner, it’s likely you will make more money as more jobs are available. 
  • Partnerships. Drivers in a romantic relationship often enjoy working together. You can travel the country with your partner, working at the same time.

Cons of Team Driving

  • Less pay per mile. While it’s likely you’ll make more money in the long run, you are getting paid less per mile, as pay is split down the middle with your co-driver. 
  • Sleep is hard. Even if you’re sleeping while the truck is moving, the quality of sleep isn’t as great. Our bodies struggle to go into a deep sleep when we’re on the move and things like traffic noise can make it difficult to rest, especially at first. 
  • Coordinating breaks. In order to take a break, you need to coordinate with your co-driver and make sure the break fits into the delivery schedule. Team driving often means tighter deadlines, making it difficult to take a break (which can be especially difficult if you don’t feel well).
  • Sharing control. If you like to be totally in charge, team driving will probably prove difficult. 
  • Time away from home. Teams often work nonstop. While this might be good for pay and your career, it makes family life difficult.

Is Team Driving Right for You?

Before you jump into team driving, it’s a good idea to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How are you at sharing space? If you’re a neat freak, you need to be sure your partner is also clean. You both want to be comfortable in the space, as a tractor-trailer is small.
  2. Can you compromise? You’ll have to compromise on breaks, where to stop, what’s on the radio, etc. If you don’t feel like you can give up your independence, this might be difficult.
  3. Are you lonely on the road? If you’re struggling with how much time you spend alone, having a co-driver can really help alleviate loneliness and still allow you to work as many hours as you’d like.
  4. Are you lonely on the road? If you’re struggling with how much time you spend alone, having a co-driver can really help alleviate loneliness and still allow you to work as many hours as you’d like.
  5. What are your pay/career goals? Remember that while there are more opportunities for work, you’ll need to be on the road more to make the same amount of money.

While team driving isn’t for everyone, dozens of truck drivers find that they love having a partner behind the wheel. It can be especially attractive to new drivers and those who want to turn in lots of miles. Be aware of the challenges that might come and go into it with an open mind. 

At the end of the day, your safety and happiness while on the job are important. Think carefully about it and make the decision that is best for you.

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