Loneliness is can be a big drawback to the trucker’s life. The days and even weeks of continuous solitude (outside of short stints at the truck stop, anyway) can get to even the most hardened of loners out on the road.
But there is a solution. What about team driving? After all, two bodies are better than one, right?
As with any too-good-to-be-true scenario, though, it often IS a little too good to be true. There are certainly many positive and negative aspects to tandem driving, and quelling the loneliness factor is but one of them.
PRO: You can drive longer. While there are rules limiting how much team drivers can stay in the truck at any one time without a rest, In general team driving gives a primary advantage of being able to drive for longer periods of time. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules dictate a single driver may only run a certain amount of time without rest. Team drivers can switch off driving duties, allowing the truck to continue rolling down the pike to its destination with fewer stops and breaks.
However, beware that this does not mean you get twice as much road time if you have a partner. FMCSA rules have recently been changed, requiring 10 consecutive hours off-duty, and only two of those hours may be spent in the passenger seat of the truck. That means that driver must spend time either out of the truck or in the sleeper berth. However, your driving partner still affords you a significant amount of potentially additional time in the truck.
CON: You have to share the truck with someone else. Probably the single biggest hangup to the team driving setup is the fact that you are sharing your already tight cab with another person. That means you are essentially married to that person: sharing a sleeping space (though hopefully not at the same time) and a living area in a home where neither person can stand up and leave the room. Tiffs and squabbles can become really awkward really quickly, and you have to also be aware of the other person’s feelings and needs as well as your own.
PRO: Team incentives are great. Large trucking companies many times offer team driving incentives such as a sign-on bonus or a 5,000 mile-per-week guarantee, even if the team doesn’t log that many miles. They also frequently enjoy higher per-mile and safety bonus rates, and often get priority dispatch.
CON: You’re still splitting the check. Keep in mind that even though you get more money, you’re still splitting the money you earn, so you will need to calculate how many miles you need to run, and whether that number is realistic and feasible, in order to operate at a profit for both of you.
PRO: You can take your spouse. Husband and wife teams, (or simply spousal pairings, depending on your situation) are relatively common in truck driving tandems. If you don’t have children it can make for a fun and rewarding experience with your significant other, seeing the world and working together…if that is a situation you can live with.
CON: You may be paired up with a stranger. If you don’t have a dedicated partner, you could be assigned on, and who knows how that will work? Being stuck on the road with someone you don’t trust can be a harrowing experience, so partnering with someone you don’t know is a high-risk, high-reward scenario. Approach it with caution.
The bottom line is, if you think you are interested in a team driving setup, do your research first. It can be a highly rewarding situation for you and for your partner, but so too can it very easily fall apart, leaving you potentially holding a very expensive bag.