Return to Squid's World
Return to Squid's Tutorials
SAFER Web Introduction
This article is for anyone who is either considering a career as a truck driver, or considering a move to a new trucking company. I wanted to show you a very useful resource that exists that can help you when you are making your decision as to which trucking company to start with.
That resource is the United States of America's Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) system, also known for short as "SAFER Web"
This is a publicly accessible government database that shows you a ton of information about any given trucking company. Information includes safety and accident records, the type of freight they haul, and the number of trucks they operate and how many miles they drive each year.
SAFER Web Company Snapshot
Why use SAFER Web?
SAFER Web can help you answer certain questions about a company that can help you make a decision about working there. These are questions that you might otherwise ask a recruiter, but thanks to the existence of this service, you can find out some of those things yourself.
This is the information that a trucking company cannot hide from you.
How to look up a company
All you need is the company's USDOT Number, once you have that you can pull up a wealth of information about that company.
To find a company's USDOT number, you can either find it written on the side of one of the company's trucks, or you can simply search for it on the internet. It is usually pretty easy to find.
It is always preferable to use a USDOT number to search for companies in SAFER Web, as opposed to searching for them by name. The reason is because this database contains records for all companies, even those which are one man operations and those which are now defunct.
For example, if you look for "Swift", you will get more results than the website is willing to show you (and that number is 500). But if you use google to search for "Swift USDOT Number" you will find it in seconds.
Disclaimer Concerning Data Accuracy
Keep in mind that these numbers can be used to make rough estimates on certain topics, but they are not absolute. Luckily, however, since this is a standardized and central source of information, our estimates will be a comparable amount of wrong between any two companies. (Woo!)
What Kind of Freight do they Haul?
One of the easiest things to find is what kind of freight they haul, it is checked off in the top of the page.
The Number of Trucks and Drivers
How Many Miles Will You Get Working Here?
This one is simple. Total number of miles divided by drivers. Boom. That's the average amount of miles you can expect to get working at this company. Usually, this number will be range between 90,000 and 110,000.
Anything below 90,000 and you should be concerned that you will spend time sitting around waiting on loads. Anything over 110,000 and you should consider whether this company runs a lot of teams, or perhaps they have a high pressure environment with lots of freight and tons of miles to give you.
How Much Money Would You Make Working Here?
This one is simple also. Never listen to a recruiter at a trucking company trying to tell you how much you will make working there. This is the biggest point of deception in the trucking industry. When it comes to compensation packages, you will find that trucking companies have invented ways of lying you haven't even considered before.
One of the most amusing thing I've seen in an advertisement for a trucking job was "Make up to 80,000+!".
Up to... 80,000... plus?? The only thing that sentence logically tells you for certain is that you might make anything in the world but it ain't gonna be $80,000! LOL.
Call the recruiter and ask them what they pay in terms of cents per mile, then multiply that by the average number of miles per driver, and you have your expected base earnings.
Also, get in writing the policies for break-down pay, layover pay, detention pay, etc. Because those forms of pay are critical to your bottom line.
If their advertisement says you will make 80k per year working there, and their SAFER web says they run 100,000 miles per driver per year, and their recruiter told you that they pay 38 cents per mile... All you can expect is roughly 38,000 per year. Ask their recruiter how they make up for the other 42,000 per year in pay!
The answer will probably be a lie, so I'll tell you the answer right now. The advertisement says UP TO 80,000 per year. That's how much their senior drivers are making, or how much their lease operators are making, or something along those lines, but you can almost be certain it isn't how much you will be making.
Does This Company Run Teams?
To guage how common running teams is for a given company, take into account the number of power units (trucks) and the number of drivers.
Another thing to take into account is the average number of miles per power unit.
One quick metric you can calculate for a given trucking company is something I call the "team score", and that is the number of drivers divided by the number of power units.
Drivers / Power Units = Team Score
For Schneider National Carriers, there are 10,612 power units, and 12,468 drivers. Therefore their team score is 1.17
For comparison, look at C.R. England, a company known for running teams. They have 3,917 power units and 6,607 drivers, for a team score of 1.69
The higher the number, the more likely a company runs teams.
Estimating the number and percentage of trucks running teams
If you want to go a step farther, you can use this formula to estimate the number of trucks that run teams.
Simply subtract the number of power units from the number of drivers, and you get the number of
Drivers - Power Units = # of Teams Trucks
This works because companies aren't paying their drivers to sit around doing nothing, so presumably they are in trucks and moving. If the company has more drivers than trucks, they are running teams!
Because team trucks are almost always teams of two drivers, we can presume that the difference between drivers and trucks is the same as the number of team trucks in operation.
For C.R. England, mentioned before, this number is 2,690. Out of C.R. England's 3,917 trucks, 2,690 of them are operated by team drivers. Divide the number of teams trucks by the total number of trucks, and you have the percentage of trucks which are running teams at this company.
Teams Trucks / Total Power Units * 100 = Percent of Trucks that are Teams Trucks
For C.R. England, we can presume that 68.7% of their trucks are running teams.
For comparison, if we did the same calculation for Schneider National Carriers, the percentage is about 17%.
Total Miles and Teams
Another clear indicator that a company is running teams is to comparetheir total number of miles to their number of power units (trucks)
MCS-150 Mileage (Year) / Power Units = Average Mileage per Truck per Year
For C.R. England, we see that they drove 507,180,669 miles in 2019, and have 3,917 trucks. This averages out to about 129,481 miles per year per truck.
Basically the guage here is: any company that has an average mileage per truck of more than 120,000 probably runs teams.
Out of Service Rates
TO BE COMPLETED
TO BE COMPLETED
How This Information Can Factor Into Your Decision
The key ways this can factor into your decision are:
- It can help you determine whether this company takes safety seriously, and whether they take care of their equipment.
- It can help you guage the honesty of the recruiter. How does what appears in SAFER web compare to what the recruiters answer to your question? The honesty of a recruiter is indicative of the character of the entire company.
- It can help you determine how many miles you can expect to get and whether or not you this company run teams. If you want to run teams, make sure that such opportunity exists. If you don't want to run teams, avoid companies that run teams, as you will be under more pressure to do so yourself.
Free Script for Calculating These Numbers