Being a smaller trucking company gives you a lot of freedom. But it still means you have the same responsibilities as the big guys.
Before you hit the road, here are some topics to consider, and questions you need to ask.
New food safety rules
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently passed new laws around the transportation of food. It’s best to familiarize yourself with the specifics of these new regulations if this is the kind of load you’ll be carrying. Some starter questions:
- Do I have the resources in my truck and on my route to match the regulations?
- Is there a risk of cross-contamination?
- Is there a food safety person I can consult?
Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)
In the USA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all owner-operators use ELDs by 2019. Canada is working on its own laws, and is expected to follow soon. Ask these questions to make sure your ELD suits your needs:
- Is it cost effective?
- Does it enhance fuel efficiency?
- Will it make driving easier?
Paying temporary drivers
If you are using temporary drivers or leasing your truck to a driver, you will need to comply with federal tax laws. Some question you must ask:
- Are you making well-documented records and keeping receipts for your temporary drivers?
- Do you have the Social Insurance Numbers of temporary drivers?
Leasing a truck from the carrier
It’s cheaper upfront to lease a truck from your carrier than to buy your own truck. And if you’re a new driver, leasing a truck can be a fast first step to being an owner-operator. Answering these big questions will help you learn whether it’s the right fit for you:
- What kind of lease is it: financial or operating?
- How and when can the leasing company take back the truck?
- Is maintenance covered? If so, how?
Company-issued payment cards
Many carriers issue cards, such as fuel cards or simply credit cards, for owner-operators to use when covering costs on the road. Be critical and ask these questions:
- If the card is tied to one particular store, can the item be purchased cheaper elsewhere?
- Can you accumulate points–the value of which are tax-free–elsewhere with your own card?
Planning for bad luck
No matter how safe you are as a driver, one bad day—or just one bad snowstorm—can result in tremendous financial stress. Good insurance and contingency planning will alleviate the burden of a bad day. It’s also important to plan for less dramatic problems, like losing a contract or a slow time of year.
- What does your insurance cover? Is your carrier charging you a premium for it?
- Do you have a rainy day fund? How long could you live on it?
Asking questions and trying something out is the only way to stay safe, save money, and be a better driver. That’s why we offer a completely free demo of FleetRover’s service. Set up a free demo today.