In the trucking industry that continually needs new drivers, team driving is a popular option. There are significant advantages to driving as a team, including more income, companionship, and faster deliveries. Surprisingly, many married couples are choosing to team drive on longer over-the-road (OTR) routes.
Most married teams are empty nesters in their 50s or older retirees. Team driving can add a sense of adventure to retirement. Married teams can also downsize their homes to save on living expenses since most of their time is spent on the road. The additional income is welcome, too. Since team drivers can make upwards of $100,000 annually, couples can use the additional income to supplement retirement savings.
There are some drawbacks to married OTR teams. Life on the road can take some adjustment when one spouse is not used to living in a semi-cab. The close quarters and long hours can also amplify unresolved marital issues. Having a healthy relationship is vital to success. However, many team-driving couples enjoy life on the road and work well together.
Advantages of Married Team Driving
It is important to consider all aspects of riding together before committing to a team-driving lifestyle. A trucking lifestyle is not for everyone. Still, there are significant advantages to team driving as a married couple.
Traveling Together Combats Loneliness
One of the hardest parts of OTR driving is the long, lonely hours on the road. Teaming up with a spouse provides both drivers with companionship and closeness. Married team drivers also face fewer issues than other driving teams. For example, sleeping arrangements are less complicated, and personality conflicts are less likely to be a problem with spouses.
Good Teams are Highly Valued
A seasoned team can deliver goods in half the time as a single driver. Trucking companies see this as a major asset, often sending top teams to their best customers to build relationships and loyalty. When both spouses are reliable drivers, it increases their earning capacity and increases the company’s reputation.
Married Teams May Be Healthier
Long, sedentary hours and few healthy food options make it easy for truckers to gain weight. Obesity, diabetes, and sleep apnea are all issues that plague the trucking industry. With a spouse along for the ride, drivers have a built-in accountability partner for staying healthy and exercising.
Team Driving Can Be Safer
Multitasking while driving can be an unsafe necessity for solo drivers. With team drivers, one partner can handle paperwork, repairs, and navigation while the other drives. The driver on duty can focus on the road instead of trying to juggle multiple tasks. Thieves and other would-be attackers may be less likely to take on a team as well.
You Get to Experience Adventures Together
Although some trips may require a tight schedule, married teams get a chance to explore the country together. An occasional hotel room and rental car can provide a quick, romantic getaway. Even if seeing the sights is not on the agenda, sharing the excitement of navigating a new city or route together can give couples a shared purpose.
Drawbacks to Team Trucking for Married Couples
On the other hand, it is equally important to count the cost of OTR driving. Life on the road can be quite an adjustment for a spouse who is used to the comforts of home. Consider these issues before deciding to become a married team.
Amount of Time Spent Together
Living in tiny quarters with virtually no place to spend time alone can take a toll on couples. Underlying issues can quickly rise to the surface; even small issues can seem bigger after weeks on the road. It takes a strong friendship and a willingness to communicate to navigate these issues.
On the other hand, it may also be difficult to find time for each other. Hours of Service (HOS) regulations state that a driver must take a 10-hour rest break after 14 hours on the road. If both spouses take turns driving, this means a maximum 4-hour overlap per day.
Roughing It Is Not for Everyone
Cabs are noisy, especially in older trucks, and long hours of quiet conversation are unrealistic expectations. Other adjustments are necessary, too. For instance, brushing teeth on the road involves bottled water and a bowl, not a bathroom sink. And although drivers can use baby wipes to stay clean, showers are a luxury, not a necessity.
Skill Level Differences Between Drivers
It can be challenging to find a rhythm for the first few months, especially when one spouse is a rookie driver. It may be easier to voice criticism toward a spouse, especially near the end of a long week. Arguments can quickly escalate if both parties are unwilling to work together to solve problems.
Tips for Married Team Drivers
If you are considering becoming a driving team or just starting out, here are some tips for you.
Learn How to Communicate
If you are not used to being with each other 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it can be a big adjustment to make. Although you may have been married for a while, you may need to relearn how to communicate. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt when you have a misunderstanding. Try saying something like, “When you said that, I heard this. Is that what you meant?” or “When this happened, I felt…” Letting your spouse know how they are coming across and being willing to discuss issues with each other can help you grow closer together.
Make the Most of Your 34 Hours Off
Federal law mandates a 34-hour rest after 70 hours of work. Take the time to relax and have fun together. Rent a hotel room and a car on occasion, and explore the area. You may find a new favorite diner or landmark to enjoy together the next time you are in town.
Make Time for Intimacy
Studies show that married couples who have healthy sex lives enjoy other benefits. Mental health, emotional stability, and physical health all improve when couples are intimate on a regular basis. With alternate sleeping schedules during a run, finding time to be together can be challenging. Be willing to schedule alone time during hectic weeks to keep your marriage healthy.
Try Riding Along First
Getting your CDL is an investment. Try riding along with your spouse first to determine whether life on the road is a good idea. You can learn the ropes by handling the logbooks, appointments, and other routine tasks to help your spouse. If you work well together, you will already have a head start on some of the things you will learn in trucking school.
Life on the road together is an amazing adventure, but it may not be right for every couple. However, many couples who drive together say it has brought them closer together. Better pay, reduced living costs, and spending time together are some of the top reasons for becoming a trucking team.