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Where's The Money, Honey?

From:  "Driver's ABC's - Surviving the First Year".


Can you make enough money driving a truck to:

  • pay the bills?

  • justify leaving a decent paying job?

  • actually save some money?

  • make a good living and support a family?

These questions are among those this section attempts to help you answer.


This section on Money is aimed towards the Over the Road (OTR) driver who is paid on mileage pay.  Most OTR drivers are paid on mileage pay, or "Per Mile".  Even if you are not, this section can still benefit you so don't quit now!


The best feature of this section is the Income and Expense Calculator.  By entering some information about what you want to earn annually as well as information concerning expenses, you can get a reasonable estimate as to what you may be looking at for income in this industry.


Ready?  Okay, let's go.... First a few things need to be understood in order for the rest to make sense... or... skip the explanations and go straight to the

Income & Expense Calculator>>>  (Wait!  You really ought to keep reading!)


Note: The Income/Expense Calculator is also now available on floppy disc as a spreadsheet file for Microsoft  Works  4.0+ and MS Excel 95, 5.0 and 2000.  Visit the Store or click the floppy disc image for details.


How Am I Paid?


Drivers are usually paid their "base" salary -- or you could say the biggest chunk of their earnings -- in one of the following ways:


Mileage (what we'll concentrate on here)

A company pays a certain amount per mile traveled, with exceptions.... The majority of company, over the road drivers are paid this way.


A Percentage of what the load pays.  This type is more common with flatbed and with Owner Operators than with company drivers.


Salaried / Hourly drivers are typically local drivers and/or those who run a specific, set route every day and/or stay within a certain territory.


By the Load  This type of pay is seen often with gasoline/diesel haulers.




Understanding Mileage Pay...


As stated before, most OTR drivers are paid by mileage pay or, "per mile" pay.  Seems simple enough:  you drive the miles and get paid for them, right?  Not quite.


Mileage pay is further broken down into two types, those being:

  • BOOK miles and HUB miles

BOOK miles are what a computer program says the distance is between Points A & B. 


HUB miles are the true & actual miles that the truck traveled to get from Point A to Point B.


So how big of a difference is there between BOOK miles & HUB miles???  Thought you'd never ask! 


Often, there's a considerable difference.  There are several computer software programs out there that companies use to compute routes & miles.  The seemingly most common ones are:

  • PC Miler

  • Rand McNally MileMaker

  • Household Mover's Guide

With the top two, in this driver's experience, it seems that most of the time, there's about 5-8% difference between the "paid miles" and the true miles.  With the bottom one, it's higher -- 8% - 13%+.


What does this mean to you? This means that you are going to drive a certain number of miles for FREE, yes, for FREE.  Doesn't seem right, does it?  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.


5% may not seem like much and in all truth, it doesn't seem like much when you're running the load either.  Take a 500 mile trip for example -- 5% of 500 miles is only 25 miles extra.  If you look at this from an annual perspective, though, you can really rack up a lot of extra unpaid miles. Over a year's time, assuming a 120,000 mile year, you're talking about 6000 miles driven for free!!! 


You can do things to keep your "free" miles down.  Good trip planning is at the top of the list.  Add up the miles of a trip before you get started and compare your route to what the paid miles are going to be.  In many cases, though, you will not be able to avoid extra miles.  The problem is that when the computer routes the trip, (also depends upon the settings the company uses) it might be using all kinds of backroads that in a truck, you're not even allowed to be on.  It may use gravel roads as well.  I hate running freebie miles but I hate gravel worse!




Additional ways to earn money...


You may be able to supplement your main income with any/all of the following, depending on what your company offers.

  • Loading/unloading pay -- Do some of your own and make the money that the company would pay the lumper.

  • Multiple pickup/drop pay -- Many companies offer a little extra when your load picks up/delivers to more than one place.

  • Detention pay --  If you're held up at a shipper/receiver for an extra long time (how long decided by carrier), they may offer a little extra.  This is a tough one to find, though.

  • Layover pay -- Related to above but could also include situations where there are no loads available or truck breaks down.

  • Shag -- If the company needs a trailer taken across town or a city load delivered, you might be offered a little extra to "shag" it.

  • Bonuses

    • Safety/Productivity/On-Time -- these bonuses are often all tied in together.  One goof-up in one area ruins the entire bonus.

    • Idle time -- Since idling wastes so much fuel, some will offer incentives to turning your truck off.

    • Referral -- Some will pay you if you refer a driver to the company.  Conditions are usually that this bonus doesn't pay until the driver has been employed at the company 90 days.

    • Mileage -- Run a certain number of miles and be paid a cent or so for all miles or something like this.  Usually has a minimum you must have in a set period in order to qualify.  Some companies are bad about letting you get very close to making this bonus and then cutting your miles enough that you can't make it.



Please proceed... Income & Expense Calculator>>>


Trucking is not a get-rich-quick scheme... you may make a good living, but you will earn every single dollar of it.


Whoever said Money Can't Buy Happiness was probably right, but I'll bet he never had to cash in pop cans for gas money..




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