Posted May 13, 2021

Is Solo or Team Driving Right for You?

By Grace Tino

Think back to the first time you considered becoming a trucker- what attracted you to the career? Many truckers gravitate towards the industry for the opportunity to see the country, escape the typical office job, or even be their own boss on the road. Most importantly, there are numerous paths professional drivers can follow in their careers; this is one of the biggest advantages of working in the industry. Between various truck hauls, routes, and companies, a driver can find him/herself with an overwhelming number of opportunities to consider. Amidst the variety of positions available in the industry, drivers can choose between solo and team driving. While the overall objective of the job is the same for either style, hauling goods from point A to point B, solo and team drivers experience different lifestyles on the road. When searching for your next job in your driving career, assess the pros and cons to each driver position carefully.

Solo Driving

Solo driving is a common trucking position and a popular one to start out with. Solo drivers do just that- drive alone. They handle their routes and equipment entirely on their own. Everything will be in your hands; the route you drive, the organization of the cab, stops, even the music you listen to. Solo driving is the quintessence of freedom on the open road. Solo drivers can work various hauls and equipment such as refrigerated freight, flatbed, or even HAZMAT. If you are stuck between solo or team driving, consider your personality type. Are you extroverted or introverted? Do you prefer having total control over your day? Are you particular about your personal space?

If you find you are more independent, solo driving is likely the best fit for you, since team driving requires a lot of compromise, trust, and coordination. For example, a team driver will have to compromise with his or her partner on their driving hours; you may have to compromise and drive early morning hours when you prefer to drive in the evening. As a solo driver, the timing of your driving hours will be up to you, as long as you complete your haul in the time required by the company. Additionally, solo drivers have the perk of an entire cab to themselves. You will be free to decorate, organize, and utilize the space how you see fit (if there are no violations with the company regulations). Solo drivers can also choose between regional, cross-country, or local routes, allowing more flexibility in the job options that fit in your desired home time. Team drivers typically work on longer routes, so there will not be local route options available to them.

Some drawbacks to solo driving include the pressure you carry on your own. All the big decisions rest in your hands when you drive alone, and it can be daunting to have the success of your trip resting on your shoulders alone. Since team drivers travel more miles in their routes, they will typically make more money than a solo driver. In addition, solo driving can be very strenuous and tiring. Though a solo driver can determine when to take his or her breaks, he or she may still be feeling tired when completing a long trip without downtime along the way. Rookie drivers may also miss out on the benefits that come with team driving if they go solo; solo drivers will not have an extra set of eyes to offer advice and pointers through the journey.

Team Driving

Team driving is when two drivers drive together, sharing the cab and the route from the company. Drivers share their driving time, rotating their shifts to keep the truck on the road for longer periods of time. While one driver is on-duty and driving, the other takes his/her off-duty break and rests. This creates an around the clock tandem that results in a higher mileage traveled in an amount of time than the average solo driver. While team driving can be very efficient, there are various pros and cons to the technique to consider before determining if it is a match for you.

An obvious pro of team driving is having a support system on the road. In a successful team driving partnership, drivers can alternate shifts when one another gets tired, keep each other company, and navigate any challenges that arise on the way. While it is possible to be paired with an experienced driver as a rookie, be sure to not rely too heavily on coaching and leadership. Not all experienced drivers are looking to be mentors for their teammates, but if they agree to coach you, the partnership can be very educational and rewarding in experience. Oftentimes, team drivers are made up of married couples or friends, which can lead to a very fulfilling and successful partnership. Team drivers also typically make more money than solo drivers since they can drive around the clock and complete more miles in shorter times. For this reason, companies also love to hire team drivers, since their profits are also maximized with the quicker trips; this makes team driving an easy position to find since it is consistently in demand.

While team driving can be very appealing, especially to new drivers nervous about heading out on the road, there are some potential cons that should be carefully considered before applying. The most obvious drawback to team driving is the large amount of compromise needed to make it work. As a team driver, you will not be making any decisions on your own. Sharing a small space can get tiresome and cramped at times, especially if you and your partner have differences in organization, music, or driving preferences. Though some team drivers may know each other beforehand, sometimes a company will randomly pair drivers together, which can act as some degree of risk. If drivers do not mesh in their driving styles and personality, the haul can wind up being more stressful than harmonious. Team drivers are also restricted to longer hauls, since they are needed to efficiently complete a lot of miles in a shorter amount of time.

Choosing the right type of driver position boils down to one key thing- “know thyself.” Be honest with yourself when considering your personality and flexibility, as working in a team can be a huge struggle if it does not fit in with your work preferences. Consider the benefits and drawbacks of both team and solo driving carefully. It may be useful to create your own pros and cons list for each, highlighting what aspects are most important to you for job satisfaction. Whether you settle on heading on the road solo or decide to try out team driving for the first time, the opportunities are out there!