Over the past decade many owner operators and small trucking companies have had solo drivers masquerading as team drivers. This is especially true on those medium haul lanes like Los Angeles to Dallas, Denver, OKC, Houston and so on. Drivers used to be able to work around the logs and preform near team like service on those 1000 to 1500 mile runs, sometimes even further. With the introduction of ELD, that is a thing of the past. Due to strict compliance the number of “teams” in the market place has evaporated. We are seeing less than 50% of what used to be available especially in the west coast market. According to the JOC and DAT most lanes in the US right now are showing more than 5.5 loads for every truck on the road. When you look at available loads vs available teams, there are greater than 10 loads for every team available.
In the age of ELD and driver shortage the game has definitely changed. Since there is already too few drivers, the thought of more of them “teaming up” is not probable. It’s a tough life for team drivers too. You get to spend weeks on the road confined to an 8×8 space. No matter how good your relationship is, that is very taxing. I think many people often forget the human element that we are dealing with in the trucking market. We can’t simply crank up the production line and make more drivers, especially team drivers. The long haul driver is a dying breed too, even more so in a hot economy. Why would you spend a majority of your life away from family and friends, often for less pay that you could get staying at home. Contractors, equipment operators, oil field workers, and even some general labor jobs are more lucrative than driving a truck.
Now when “real” teams are required in order to meet supply chain demands they can be difficult to come by. What’s the answer? 2 P’s, payment and planning. If you want the trucks, you must have the bucks. And have those bucks NOW. The days of 60 day and 90 payment terms simply won’t cut it. We need to pay our drivers fairly and pay them every week if we expect them to be loyal and continue to do work for us. On your ocean import shipments the best way to ensure capacity is to provide as much notice as possible. Get the DO in the hand of your logistics company before the vessel docks. This allows a company like Port X to track the vessel, track container availability, and proactively secure team drivers for your cargo. Those who wait until the last minute will generally pay even more of a premium for team drivers.