Legal Lane: Make An Additional $100,000 Driving A Truck
May 1, 2012
There have been many studies and surveys over the years by both the American Trucking Association and the Truckload Carriers Association looking at the cost of driver turnover. The studies have found companies spend on average more than $8,000 to replace each lost driver. It also costs the average driver more than $ 100,000 in lost wages and benefits over a 30 year span. Drivers who changes jobs 8 times in 30 years will lose not only medical insurance, but 401k, vacation and income. The same driver will be unemployed for 4 months, go 21 months without medical insurance and lose 84 months of 401k eligibility according to the studies. Notice this information is for eight (8) job changes over 30 years, have many have you had in your driving career?
CSA is making a profound change to professional truck driving as is all the other FMCSA rules and regulations. Some of the most noticeable are the new Hours of Service, CDL driver training, cell phone use, electronic logs, sleep apnea, and medical card being incorporated into your CDL among others. Drivers can now view their own driving record through their PSP (Pre-employment Screening Program) and contest it just like their credit scores. The PSP is a big surprise to many drivers as they are not familiar with it and how it impacts their ability to get a job. The carrier is required to screen all potential drivers through FMCSA regulations and the PSP is quickly becoming the industry standard to verify a driver’s record.
Word of caution, the PSP is your driving record as it is stored in the CDL databank. Similar to your credit score, it can also contain mistakes and stop you from getting a job just like your credit score can stop you from getting a loan or buying something on credit. My experience over the life of the CDL is there is a twenty percent (20%) error rate so you should make it a priority to check both your PSP and your credit score. Before you even think about changing jobs, look at your PSP to see if you will qualify at the carrier you wish to work for.
Changing jobs can have a hidden cost to a driver. The immediate loss of cash flow is the first thing the family notices. The driver will have orientation at a new company and the lost cash flow is hard to overcome, not to mention the loss of any bonus program at the old company.
Also there may be a break in medical insurance coverage. Many companies have a waiting period for your coverage to start if they offer it at all. Very few things can get a family in such huge debt as fast as doctor or hospital bills. In fact a lot of bankruptcies are due to the inability to ever be able to pay off the doctors or hospitals if you or a loved one has a major illness or accident.
The hardest thing to teach a man without any money is how he can save money. Many drivers fail to realize how simple saving money really is. You do not have to save much money each month to end up with a bunch of money at the end of the year. This is why you should put every penny you are allowed to into an IRA or 401k program with your company, these monies are pre-tax which means you do not have to pay tax on that money when you put it in the IRA or 401k.
Keep in mind that by changing companies, you may be losing any money your old company has contributed to your IRA or 401k, depending upon the company’s vesting requirements. Plus your new company may have a waiting period before you will be allowed to participate in their programs. I am not a CPA or financial advisor, but I sure recommend that you talk with one to determine what kind of financial future you want for yourself and your family.
I do not think every driver can work for every carrier. But I do know that one of the first things I look for when I interview a prospective employee is their job history. Have they stayed with the job a reasonable amount of time or do they job hop. Have they increased their position and responsibility with each job? Have they grown and matured in each job? Sure as a driver, you will probably always be able to find a job, but will it be the kind of job you really, really want with good pay and good benefits? Do you want a job with a respected carrier where you will be treated with respect; in fact, a career instead of a job?
A good way to keep a job or to get a better one is to insure that you protect your MVR. Companies have minimum requirements they will accept for drivers and a good MVR is first and foremost on their list. Carriers may be required by their insurance companies to terminate drivers with a bad MVR. DOT is now fining carriers huge amounts for drivers that violate logs or who have a MVR in violation of their rules. With the insurance premiums going up for carriers, they have to make sure they do not increase their exposure to liability by having a driver with a messy MVR. So my advice to you is to fight every citation you receive that could damage your MVR. You never know when you will receive a citation, so make sure you do not convict yourself just by paying the fine. You may need your good MVR after all.
This loss of wages and benefits makes the driver and his/her family the focus in the driver turnover story. Who really gets hurt when a driver changes jobs? The answer seems to be the driver.
Jim C. Klepper is President of Interstate Trucker Ltd., a law firm entirely dedicated to legal defense of the nation’s commercial drivers. Interstate Trucker represents truck drivers throughout the forty-eight (48) states on both moving and non-moving violations. Jim is also president of Drivers Legal Plan, which allows member drivers access to his firm’s services at greatly discounted rates. Jim, a former prosecutor, is also a registered pharmacist, with considerable experience in alcohol and drug related cases. He is a lawyer that has focused on transportation law and the trucking industry in particular. He works to answer your legal questions about trucking and life over-the-road and has his Commercial Drivers License.
800-333-DRIVE (3748) or www.interstatetrucker.com and www.driverslegalplan.com