Once we take the plunge and buy a truck we become a business and in trucking that business comes with a lot of regulations. We are regulated to how many hours a day we can drive, how many hours we can stay on duty, breaks, minimum of how many hours we have to spend in sleeper. Not many businesses regulate the minimum of time a worker must spend in their bedroom. We have rules as team drivers how long we can sit in the passenger seat before we have to go on duty. Our rules include how and when we inspect the truck, how often we have to get inspections done on our trucks, how we can mount GPS's or other devices to our windshields. Not complying with regulations we get a hefty fine and some fines that can put us out of business. This is a very short list of the regulations drivers comply with. The saying a truck driver is a brain dead steering wheel holder cannot be further from the truth.
There are many sectors of trucking that are vastly different from someone that pulls a van from dock to dock. We haul a lot of hazmat and that has more regulations then general freight hauling. There are the people that pull a flat bed that must know the regulations of properly securing a load, the drivers that have over size trailers also have to know when and where they can drive. Even pulling the most common freight of a dry van there are many regulations on what streets you can drive on and even in some cities of what time you can be on certain streets.
As owners of the truck we buy our tags, our insurance, pay our IFTA or international fuel tax, we have to pay our quarterly income taxes, pay for health insurance, and pay into our retirement. Somehow we have to run our business, drive our trucks, stay knowledgeable about laws, and learn about new products. Even as I write this I get a headache and a little overwhelmed at all of the hats within a small trucking company one person must wear.
We are leased to a company that does not own any trucks and the best part is they are proactive on education. We have education modules, monthly newsletters, and monthly conference calls on a variety of topics. The education is provided we though must make the decision to use the education.
As business owners we have to have continual education that we get from good sources such as Freightliner Team Run Smart, reading magazines, listening to the radio trucking channels, and so on. Everything that we read and hear still needs to be taken with a grain of salt and verified. We are the ones responsible for verifying what we hear before we take action.
One way we stay current is our involvement in the Trucking Solution Group that was started in 2008, we have weekly conference calls to better each other’s business. The group also has guest speakers who have ranged from Anne Ferro, former FMCSA director, to Mike Beckett, MD Alignment, to engineers discussing issues that concern us as business owners. Trucking Solutions Group has a Facebook page where we discuss issues and post upcoming calls that we have that are open to anyone that would like to listen in.
This past year members of Freightliners Team Run Smart presented a day workshop at the Expedite Expo on how to take your owner operator business to the next level. What I enjoyed about this workshop is that it was taught be owner operators who drive day in and day out and know how the regulations affect us. We had in our audience attendees who work at freight hauling companies who are trying to better understand how we make a living and still comply with company rules. It was a turn around for us as we are usually the ones sitting in the audience trying to figure out how we are going to comply. It was great to be the educators.
We have found that we need a combination of education, learning from other owner operators and also industry professionals. Some we learn from know the regulation and then we with the help of other drivers figure out how to comply with the regulations and continue to run a profitable business. Continuing education is essential to our trucking business.