Drivers' Corner - Ask the Recruiter

It never ceases to amaze me--the quality of questions posed by the readers of this column is outstanding. Thank you again for the questions that were sent to me since the last column. Please continue sending questions in and I will do my best to answer as many as I can. If I don't answer your question in the column there is a good probability that a similar one has already been answered in a previous column, so I encourage reviewing the archives when possible (this is especially true for questions regarding felonies, DAC, and DUIs). Thank you for making this column the great success that it continues to be.

Q I have my CDL-A and am about to start my career as a driver. My question is regarding income. I've been told by many drivers that a gross salary ranging from approximately $90,000 to $150,000 can be attained once you become a lease operator or owner-operator. How true is this? This is very important information for me because I am a single woman and I am looking ahead planning, saving and preparing for my retirement. Thank you.


I think this is a fairly accurate gross income range for an owner-operator or lease operator, although I would consider the top end a bit high. The key word, however, is "gross" not "net." If you consider that most owner/lease operator contracts will pay about $0.80 to $0.84 cents per mile (or some similar amount if paying percentage), with a realistic average of about 2800-3200 miles per week (some weeks more, some weeks less) then the figures you were provided do work out.

Now, because you are interested in planning ahead, saving and preparing for your retirement it is also important to consider that a good portion of that gross income will be used to pay for the cost of operating the truck: fuel, maintenance, tires, truck insurances, health insurances, taxes and other necessary expenses. After all of these expenses, the net income (actual take home pay) is likely to average $38,000 to $50,000 per year.

Any profession will have its advantages and disadvantages, and truck driving is no different. Once you take the step and become an entrepreneur there are more opportunities for reward, but the risks are greater as well. Thoroughly investigate your options and truly understand the potential risks and rewards no matter what you do.

Q If you give a company 2 weeks verbal notice to leave, then they ignore it and keep you out OTR and don't get you back to turn in the company truck, then you leave the truck in safe secure place and notify them of doing so, what will happen? I live in Ohio where they put me on a bus to their terminal in Wisconsin.


This is a very good question and it represents a situation I see a lot. First, it is very professional to provide at least two weeks notice of termination at any job. However, the over-the-road truck driver is not a typical job. I can honestly say that once a carrier knows you are quitting most will work to get you back to an acceptable location so you can turn in your truck.

As an over-the-road truck driver you spend a lot of time away from the terminal(s). Because of this, it is not always possible to get a driver back to the terminal on a specific date. Carriers prefer to not deadhead their trucks from point A to point B as this is costly, so even if you provide notice of termination most carriers will try to load the truck on the way back home. Freight is not always available from point A to point B, so sometimes it is necessary to go from point A to point C to point D before you can get to point B. The point (excuse the pun) is that logistically these things don't always work out perfectly.

If you leave the truck in a secure place then they are likely to notify DAC that you have abandoned the truck under dispatch. It is the carrier that decides where the truck should be placed; after all, it's their investment. What I recommend to most drivers is to not give notice while on the road, unless you are under dispatch going to the preferred terminal. The time to give notice is when you are at the terminal, face to face. Explain the situation, then suggest you are willing to continue working for 2-4 weeks, but you will need to get back no later then a certain date. If they agree, have them sign a statement agreeing to have you back by a given date.

Giving notice of termination is very professional, but most carriers prefer to have their trucks returned to them, even if you quit the same day.

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