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The Lies Trucking Companies Tell New Drivers During Recruitment

Contract signing for recruitment

The trucking industry is no stranger to the allure of the open road, promising adventure and independence. For newcomers, it can be easy to succumb to these enticing prospects, especially when recruiters paint a picture of a dream job combined with big bucks awaiting them just around the bend. Yet, as the initial excitement fades, many new drivers discover the harsh reality that doesn't always align with what was promised.

The disconnect between expectation and reality is a significant factor contributing to the industry's high turnover rate. When new drivers realize that the perks and commitments they were told to expect don't materialize, disillusionment can set in, leading to frustration and a desire to explore other opportunities within and outside the industry. This dissatisfaction ultimately results in drivers leaving their trucks at an alarming rate.

Trucking companies that employ misleading tactics to attract drivers not only face issues with retention but also tarnish their reputation within the industry. The trucking community is tightly knit, and word quickly spreads about companies that do not fulfill their promises. This negative publicity can make it even harder for these companies to retain and attract new talent, creating a cycle of high turnover and recruitment difficulties.

Promise #1: Unrealistic Weekly Mileage

Quick math will tell a driver that he can cover x miles at y speed and z working hours. Taking this approach, drivers may easily believe that 3,000 miles a week is a breeze: it’s not. The oversimplification ignores road variables and can lead to disappointment. Road congestion, parking challenges, the need for sufficient rest, uncontrollable factors affecting loading and unloading, and potential limitations in available freight loads are significant considerations in the trucking industry.

Truck driver satisfaction rating

The chart displays the quantity of negative or neutral comments related to specific trucking topics, accompanied by average satisfaction ratings provided by drivers. In general, a higher comment count correlates with a lower satisfaction score and vice versa.

In the study conducted by Workhound that analyzed 36,938 driver comments from at least 95 carriers, they found logistics as a top concern of drivers across all carrier sizes. Dispatchers and brokers seem to struggle to balance limited freight with driver demand. This “self-induced” slowdown among carriers is expected as it is hard to keep customer accounts if companies continually lose drivers for unfair pay or policies in general.

These are among the  negative comments collected on this topic:

Truck drivers negative comments

To keep the expectations realistic, according to United Truck Driving School, typical mileage goals in a driver’s first 6 months range from 2,400-2,700 miles per week. As drivers go along, mileage should increase but drivers must acknowledge that there are a lot of variables in play and it’s not simply about their unquestionable hard work.

Promise #2: Better pay structure

Certainly, every pay structure comes with its advantages and disadvantages. However, new truck drivers should be cautious of recruiters who overly promote their pay structure as the absolute best. There is no objectively perfect pay structure- only the lesser evil among available pay structures. 

The video highlights how the prevailing pay structures are being uniquely corrupted. In the case of mileage pay, even with a GPS tracking system in place for oversight, some carriers still manipulate miles or negotiate lower cents per mile (CPM) rates with drivers.

For percentage pay, there is another level of honesty and transparency to make this work. In this setup, drivers will never be able to confirm rate offerings from original shippers, so load brokers have enough leeway to take home the most in this system. Percentage pay is under scrutiny, especially as complaints of freight fraud, including double-brokering, surged by 400% in 2022 Q4  versus 2021.

Explore drivers' perspectives on different payment structures:

Truck drivers negative comments

In the current Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) era, where drivers’ hours of service are strictly monitored, going overtime to cover target miles or finish a load is not a choice. Even so, hopes for hourly pay dominating the trucking industry are far-fetched at this point.

Promise #3: Regular Home Time

Truck drivers have preferred home time and this does not always go as planned according to the Trucker Path survey. Hence, if a company overly promises regular home time during recruitment, chances are they are stretching the truth.

Truck drivers prefer home time

Home time heavily varies depending on driver types– local, over-the-road (OTR), and regional truck drivers. For OTR drivers who go on extensive miles across 48 states, being away from home for 3-4 weeks is normal. Meanwhile, regional and local drivers who cover shorter distances can spend time at home weekly or daily, respectively. 

Driving long distances exposes drivers to many variables such as extreme weather, leading to home time uncertainties. Case in point, dozens of semi-truck drivers were stuck in Rapid City because of Interstate 90 being shut down in December 2022. Vince Bova, the truck driver for 7 years, shared how he was stuck for over 17 hours and he sees this part of the job.

It is just a wait-and-see game with trucking. The frustrating part is when you have a little bit of downtime that you have, it is still minute-to-minute. It’s not full relax mode because you just have to be ready to go as soon as you get the word,”

Promise #4: Earn More With Lease Purchase Program

Lease programs might look like a company's way of helping new drivers, but the truth is, that companies often benefit more from them. These programs are essentially a strategy to keep drivers committed for the long term and a means to remove them from the company's payroll.

Lease programs that grant trucking companies “to wield financial power over a driver” is an ongoing concern that led to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Truck Leasing Task Force (TLTF) setting up a new panel to target predatory leasing contracts. The unfair setup of these programs is articulated by Task Force member Jim Jefferson, who supervises regulatory compliance for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. 

“They treat him like an employee, but they give him all the responsibilities of an independent contractor, and in a lot of cases they make less money than what a company driver can make. So maybe there should be some separation between a lease-purchase company and a carrier so that that company doesn’t control every aspect of the [relationship] with the driver.”

In certain instances, lease programs are just straight out of a scamming formula—showering the drivers with all the benefits at the beginning to keep them engaged, only to unveil hidden conditions in the agreement later on. It is downright cruel that in these setups, the driver’s ability to repay the debt is controlled by the issuer of the debt itself.

Driver comment about on lease purchase programs

In hindsight, regulators acknowledge that these agreements cannot easily be uprooted in the industry because some aspiring drivers may not have the capital to purchase a truck. Tamara Brock, a task force member representing independent owner-operators, adds “You asked why people do this, because they want ownership. The playing field is unfair, but we just want to level the playing field.” 

In the end, it is recommended that if lease agreements are completely unavoidable, aspiring drivers must at least do research to understand cost of doing business with equipment leases. Lease-purchasers can enhance their understanding of costs to negotiate contracts with potential companies. The negotiation extends beyond just mileage or percentage pay; it also includes securing a guarantee of miles per week based on available dispatch.

Similarly, newcomers to the trucking industry should understand their classification as either W-2 employees or 1099 independent contractors. As Linehaul Solutions shared, a simple rule of thumb is: If you own or lease your tractor and can drive away after a job, you're likely a 1099 contractor. On the other hand, if you're driving a truck that isn't yours and won't be used in your next job, especially full-time, you're likely a W-2 employee. Opting for 1099 status while driving someone else's truck often signals an attempt to reduce employer responsibilities.

Promise #5: Trucks Do Not Break Down

Truck breakdowns are not a matter of if, but when. On average, semi-trucks break down every 10,000 miles or so. However, this still varies according to how old the truck was when it was turned over to the driver, the road conditions of the truck routes, and exposure to climatic changes. Hence,  finding a trucking company that protects drivers’’ earnings during these breakdowns is a must.

In the video, Kevin shares that he is paid $75 a day when his truck is broken down, but this only applies if he is available for work during those 24 hours.  Overall, Kevin feels that the $75-a-day breakdown pay is not sufficient and does not fairly compensate OTR drivers for their lost earnings. He also mentions that he could have stayed in a hotel during breakdowns but was asked to stay in his truck to save the company money. 

Breakdowns may not occur frequently, but their effects can be long-lasting, especially for those lacking sufficient support, as shown in the example above. New drivers can explore driver forums to get an idea of average breakdown pay, but these figures often differ based on company size and whether companies use in-house mechanics or rely on dealership mechanics.

Truck drivers negative comments

Truck maintenance can be quite costly, so, understandably, some companies might be hesitant to offer generous breakdown pay. However, it remains their responsibility, and new drivers have the right to be informed about breakdown policies and terms even during the recruitment process.

In a nutshell, new truck drivers need to be savvy and skeptical when confronted with enticing promises from trucking companies. The articles and videos reveal common industry pitfalls, from exaggerated mileage expectations and dubious pay structures to the risks associated with lease purchase programs. It's a stark reminder that what's promised may not always align with reality.

Beyond that, the assurance of regular home time and the myth that trucks rarely break down are debunked by firsthand accounts. The takeaway: drivers must arm themselves with industry knowledge, dive into research, and approach recruitment with a discerning eye. In a world where misinformation can lead to regrettable career decisions, staying informed is key for those navigating the trucking industry landscape.


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