Team Driving 101: A guide to navigating life as a driving duo
Choosing a career as an over-the-road driver can increase your personal and professional satisfaction, as well as your financial stability. But did you know that team driving can produce even greater benefits?
Whether you already have a committed partner and are ready to start moving freight or you’re just interested in the idea of team driving, there’s a lot to know! Find out what team driving is, get a feel for what to expect and learn about a company that can provide everything you need to succeed.
What you need to know about team driving
The industry defines team driving as two professional drivers riding together in the same truck and sharing driving duties while transporting freight. While there are similarities, solo driving and team driving jobs are not interchangeable. Here are some important things to understand if you’re considering team driving.
No additional certification is required
Anyone holding a current CDL is eligible to drive as part of a team.
You’ll be in the truck for longer stretches
Delivering time-sensitive freight is one of the ways teams provide value to carriers and customers. Because you and your co-driver can trade shifts behind the wheel — one drives as the other sleeps or rides in the passenger seat — your team is able to run continuously (minus breaks) while complying with Hours-of-Service regulations. This means team drivers typically log between 4,500 and 5,000 miles per week compared to solo drivers, who average between 2,400 and 2,800 miles per week.
You can generate more income
Because you’re hauling time-sensitive freight, you’re staying on the move and logging more miles, which means you’ll typically earn more as a team driver. How much more depends on variables such as your experience level, your endorsements and the rate per mile.
Finding a compatible co-driver
Drivers who choose to team up commonly partner with someone they already know, like a spouse, family member or friend. This typically makes a working relationship easier and more successful because you:
- Have a history of working together
- Communicate well with one another
- Have built a foundation of mutual trust and respect
- Can comfortably share close quarters for extended periods
- Are willing to compromise to enjoy a positive experience
- Help each other manage stress, practice healthy habits and stay engaged
- Effectively resolve conflicts (or avoid them altogether)
An existing relationship between co-drivers is beneficial, but not required. If you’re a solo driver looking to form a team, many carriers offer programs that pair drivers based on compatibility (using criteria such as personal preferences and habits, likes and dislikes, and geographic location).
How to set your team up for success
Once you’ve connected with another driver and formed a team, there’s still work to be done. Follow these steps to help create a rewarding team driving experience:
Schedule loads that keep you rolling — and making money
Use your time efficiently to maximize your earnings. Each co-driver is allowed to drive for up to 11 hours in a shift (while the other is off for 10). That makes it possible for the truck to be moving practically around the clock and make faster deliveries, which is why teams often get more priority loads than solo drivers. Understanding the needs of the market, building a strong network of contacts (including fellow drivers) and choosing the right freight all contribute to bigger paychecks.
Communicate clearly and often
Some drivers like working during the day while others prefer a night shift. Maybe you enjoy chatting or listening to music or talk radio on the road while your partner functions better with silence. It’s possible you may disagree with where and how often you stop. Whatever the case may be, work together to find common ground. Compromise goes a long way toward building a successful partnership.
Develop and maintain important skills together
You want your team to be safe and well-prepared for any situation that may come up. Don’t rely on your partner to handle the parts of the job you don’t enjoy or need to improve on. Co-drivers may have their preferred individual tasks, but it’s critical for each driver to be comfortable performing essential skills like navigation, driving in bad weather, backing into docks, maneuvering in tight surroundings, or conducting pre-trip equipment checks.
Support each other emotionally
Sharing driving duties is just one benefit of working as a team. Riding with a co-driver can make challenging times easier to handle by always having someone to talk to!
Elevate your career to new heights with Panther
Teams can find limitless opportunities for profit, growth and career satisfaction driving with Panther – including a unique lease purchase program that offers a non-traditional path to truck ownership. We provide industry-leading ground expedite solutions for thousands of customers nationwide, so you’ll always have access to premium freight, as well as a generous driver rewards program and around-the-clock support. Reach out today for more information!