Many people don’t take enough time to fully understand and comply with the many requirements of owning a small trucking business. So, here’s what you need to know to stay in compliance with the law .
Hire A Lawyer
Don’t try to be a lawyer. Hire one – especially for the setup process. A lawyer is invaluable when you’re trying to decide what corporate structure to adopt, what you should be doing as far as licensing and employee status, and how to structure your working and employment contracts.
You may also need a truck accident attorney for times when your drivers are involved in a trucking accident.
Plan Out How Your Business Will Run
Not understanding how your business runs is the single-greatest threat to your future success. Will you hire drivers directly or contract with them (as independent contractors)? Owner drivers or owner operators are drivers who don’t work for you. They work for themselves and you hire them on an “as-needed” basis.
While many employers see this as an ideal arrangement, it can also be a disadvantage. When you contract with owner operators, they’re not your employees. They’re not beholden to you. You may save money on employee-related benefits costs, but you also cannot manage them as employees.
They can contract with other companies, and take other work, leaving you stranded for employees when you need them the most.
Another method often employed, involving independent contractors, is to own the trucks yourself but hire independent contract drivers. This is a little better, but you still won’t be able to guarantee their loyalty or service, since they can drive for other companies when they’re not driving for you.
If you hire direct, then the drivers work for you. However, this tends to be the most expensive option since you have to provide them with health insurance benefits, retirement benefits, and pay ½ of their Social Security benefits. You also have to cover them under worker’s comp and unemployment insurance.
Your Licensing Requirements
According to U.S. law, all truck drivers must have specific licenses before driving on U.S. roads. These licenses can be paid for by you, the driver, or split. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, which the majority of trucking companies only hiring workers over 23 (because they tend to be more responsible).
Determine The Driver Class You’ll Need
The U.S. Department of Transportation governs how trucking companies may operate. Class A licenses are required for any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds. However, the limits stop at 10,000 pounds (which moves you into another weight class).
A Class B license is required for single vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more. Class C licenses are for any single vehicle or combination of vehicles, that do not meet the standard legal requirements for Class A or B. Usually, these vehicles are for any vehicle that carries hazardous materials.
As you might guess, your drivers need to have the proper licensing, which you oversee. And, the more dangerous, and the more heavy the load and truck, the more rigorous the requirements are for licensing.
Charlotte Hunt took over her family run haulage company 5 years ago. She enjoys writing for business blogs on the topic of trucking when the office is quiet.