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What Is an Owner-Operator Truck Driver?

An owner-operator truck driver is a truck driver who owns their own tractor and bids on contracts independently.
Owner-operator truck drivers may have a harder time finding companies to deliver for.
Owner-operator truck drivers aim to be carrying a delivery each time they hit the road to ensure money is being made.
Some owner-operators sign a single long-term contract with a single entity, meaning less need to generate trucking work from other clients.
Owner-operators may deliver goods with a team of other drivers.
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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2014
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In many cases truck drivers are employees. They are hired by a company or the vehicle’s owner to haul goods. An owner-operator truck driver is someone who fills both roles. He does the driving and owns the vehicle he drives.

When a person is merely a driver, he usually does not have as many responsibilities. He must see that loads are picked up and delivered on time and that they are in good condition. When a person is an owner-operator truck driver, the responsibilities can multiply a great deal. How many responsibilities he has will depend on whether he gets assistance for certain duties.

Success in the trucking industry involves having a truck that is in motion. Generally, if the truck is not moving, money is not being made. An owner-operator truck driver’s income may depend on him finding work for himself.

Some individuals sign a single long-term contract. This assures that they will be able to haul a specified number of loads for a single entity. These cases often generate enough revenue that the driver does not have to look for other work.

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Others, however, work on a load by load basis. An owner-operator truck driver may, for example, find a job that requires delivery to Tallahassee, Florida. He will then likely try to find something that needs to be taken from Tallahassee, Florida. Otherwise, he may be traveling at a loss. These arrangements are often made through brokers to eliminate some of the work for the owner-operators, but some do it themselves.

In addition to finding work, the owner-operator truck driver may also have to handle administrative duties. He may have to track payments and make inquiries regarding payments that have not been received. He may be responsible for invoicing clients for the work he has done. He may also have to deal with clients when deliveries are late or new jobs need to be negotiated. Sometimes a secretary is employed to handle such duties while the driver is on the road.

There are many costs associated with being an owner-operator truck driver. Truck maintenance and fuel are two of the major ones. He will also need insurance to cover the vehicle and generally the goods he transports. Additionally, he must support himself while on the road, unless he limits himself to local jobs, while maintaining household expenses, unless he lives in his truck.

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