ATS Transportation Blog

Team Truck Drivers 101: An Overview of What Using a Team Means For Your Freight

Semi-truck-with-team-drivers

If there’s one thing the transportation industry has to offer shippers, like you, it’s options. Depending on the size and type of freight you’re moving, the timelines you’re looking to meet and, perhaps most importantly, the dollars you have to spend, these options will change. 

Each transportation service is designed to help companies facilitate their supply chain activities at the highest possible level.  

As your needs change and you prioritize one thing over the field — opting to expedite your timelines at a heightened cost, for example — different services make sense. 

For companies that have tight deadlines to meet and/or a product that simply needs to reach its destination quickly, using a team of drivers is a resource many of them use.  

But what will you get by using a team of drivers? How does this service work? Will using a team of drivers for your next shipment make your life easier and customer(s) happy? Let’s talk about it. 

Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we have been offering team transportation services, across industries, for years. Based on this experience, we feel confident in our ability to outline what team transportation services are, where their strengths/weaknesses lie and when opting for this service truly makes the most sense. 

Below you’ll find answers to the questions of:

  • What are team truck drivers?
  • How do hours of service regulations impact team truck drivers?
  • How many miles can team drivers drive in a day?
  • When does it make sense to use team drivers?
  • How does using team drivers impact your shipping costs?

Failing to comprehensively understand how using a team of drivers impacts the businesses that do so, will make it difficult to decide whether this service fits your needs. Use this information to ensure that the decision you make adequately fits your transportation needs. 

What Are Team Truck Drivers?

Team truck drivers are a pair of CDL-certified drivers that, together, handle the transportation of a single shipment. By organizing their driving order based on the current state of their individual hours of service (HOS) “clocks,” team truck drivers are capable of significantly expediting a shipment. 

While the first driver, commonly called the primary driver or “driver A,” is behind the wheel, the secondary driver (driver B) rests. By swapping spots in this manner, and holding a steady, often-continuous pace, team drivers are a great solution for freight with tight timelines to meet.

How Do Hours of Service Regulations Impact Team Truck Drivers?

Team truck drivers are subject to the same hours of service rules and regulations as individual truck drivers. In this setting, each member of a “team” operates under, records and adheres to their individual HOS

As outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), HOS regulations limit drivers to 14 hours of “on-duty” time within a 24-hour period. 11 of these 14 hours can be spent behind the wheel of their commercial motor vehicle. 

Following 11 hours of “drive time,” each driver is legally required to take a 10-hour break. While non-team drivers may spend this rest period in any way they choose, team truckers who’ve just concluded their 11 hours of drive time continue their time on the road — either within the cab or sleeper portion of their tractor. 

By the 10th hour of the secondary team driver’s HOS, the primary driver — who handled the first portion of that transit — has a full HOS clock once again. As a result, when their HOS are managed correctly, team drivers can — in theory — keep a shipment continuously moving, stopping only as necessary. 

Team-truck-drivers-moving-van-freight

How Many Miles Can Team Drivers Drive In a Day?

When their hours of service are managed and allocated correctly, you can expect a team of drivers to travel between 800 and 1,200 miles per day. Although it’s not uncommon for a team to average 1,000 miles in a day, external factors like weather, road construction and route speed limits will influence the number of miles a team can cover. 

Due to factors like these, truck drivers struggle to exceed 500-700 miles per day individually — making it just as difficult for members of a team to reach these thresholds. 

When Does it Make Sense to Use Team Drivers?

As you might imagine, a team of truck drivers that significantly increases the distance a shipment travels in a day — sometimes cutting its transit time in half — can be a valuable solution for any company with expedited transportation needs

Even though the use-case for these teams will vary situationally, this service is most commonly used when a company’s requirements meet one, or both, of the following criteria:

  • When the opportunity/financial cost of not having a product/unit/component on-site (at a destination) far outweighs that of transporting it with a team.

  • When the party paying for a load’s transport cares about meeting its deadline and receiving expedited service more than holding to a budget. 

Every industry faces urgent time constraints and situations like those listed above. 

For this reason, team drivers aren’t dedicated to certain industry types over others. That said, some industries face these timing-related barriers more commonly. 

To name a few, aerospace/aviation, utility, manufacturing and defense companies use team services more frequently than other businesses. 

Any time the advantage (a highly-expeditious freight transport) of using a team outweighs the cost (a far higher freight bill) and a shipment’s length of haul exceeds 500 miles, using a team makes the most sense. 

How Does Using Team Drivers Impact Your Shipping Cost?

The final consideration you’ll want to make when deciding whether team transport services will meet your needs is how much utilizing them will cost. Honestly, due to the complex nature of transportation pricing, it’s difficult to give you a concrete number here. 

Factors such as your length of haul, supply and demand in your freight’s origin/destination, the amount of lead time you provide and the specifics (dimensions/nature) of your load will all impact the price of getting it moved. 

That said — since you’re hiring two truck drivers to move your freight — team drivers usually cost between two and a half to three times as much as a non-team shipment. For example, a legal open-deck load that is quoted all-in at $500 without a team, would cost $1,250-$1,500 to move with a team of drivers. 

As such, it’s important that you opt for this service with the right understanding: team drivers will get your freight delivered faster but you’ll have to pay substantially to do so. 

Truck-driver-team-picking-up-freight

Want to Save Some Money On Your Team Shipments? 

Now that you understand what team truck drivers are, how they function and what using a team will mean for your budget and timelines, you’re one step closer to mastering your shipping processes. 

For the supply chains they fit, a team of drivers can make a useful impact. That said, over time this service can leave an impression on the bottom lines of the companies using it. 

If you feel like using a team for your next shipment would fit your requirements well, but are wary of the price tag associated with doing so, you’re not alone. 

Although it’s difficult to shave a ton of dollars off of these rates — as this service is hard work and in high demand — there are things every company can do to make their freight more appealing to truck drivers. In doing so, many of these companies experience less hassle finding a truck and can even save money in the end.

If the thought of saving some money on your future expedited, and normal, freight shipments intrigues you, check out our article, 4 Out-Of-The-Box Ways to Save Money On Your Freight Rates for some cost-saving tips. 

Finally, if you’re wondering how ATS’ team transportation services can help you meet your tight deadlines, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re happy to help you meet your goals in any way you need.

Tags: Terminology

Ben Delong

Written by Ben Delong

Ben joined ATS more than 11 years ago, playing key roles in Specialized Operations & Customer Service prior to taking on his current role as Director of the Heavy Haul team 8 years ago. In his leadership role, Ben oversees the sales and operations activities for the more than 150 highly specialized Drivers and 250 dedicated trailers on the ATS Heavy Haul fleet, as well as the ATS in-house planning and permitting teams. Together, Ben and his experienced team safely and successfully plan, permit & deliver more than 10,000 over-dimensional loads each year.

Work With a Transportation Provider You Can Trust

You don't want your freight in just anyone's hands. Find a transportation provider that cares about your safety and your reputation. Learn how ATS can help.

Connect With an Expert