If you enjoy the independence and flexibility of being a truck driver but looking for ways to have more control over what kind of loads you haul and driving routes, you should consider using your skills to launch a solo enterprise. Since you already have the requisite skills and license to operate semi trucks, the only major hurdle you face to becoming an independent driver is buying or leasing your own vehicle. The following guide can help you prepare to branch out on your own and begin a new chapter in your trucking career.
Obtain Additional License Endorsements
While your commercial driver's license (CDL) enables you to operate a semi and carry most types of loads, if you want to increase your work opportunities you should obtain special endorsements to haul other types of cargo such as hazardous materials and tanks.
Obtaining a hazardous materials endorsement also requires a background check. You will also need an additional endorsement to drive trucks with double or triple trailers.
Your state's motor vehicle department can provide you with details on how to study and take the tests for these additional endorsements. You may be able to take the required tests via third-party training facilities.
Obtain Your Own Truck
If you have saved up money over the years to put a down payment on a semi truck you are in an excellent position to obtain a good deal or a new or used semi. However, even if you do not have tens of thousands of dollars saved up, you can obtain a loan to buy a vehicle or you can lease a truck.
If you want to make modifications to your truck, buying a vehicle may be your best option. If you do not have the funds for a sizable down payment, you can explore your options for leasing a truck from a dealership.
Some leases will also include truck maintenance costs and repairs in your monthly note. This enables you to avoid having to deal with expensive repairs and regular maintenance costs.
When you are ready to purchase or lease a truck, make a list of the requirements for your ideal vehicle to take with you to a dealership. Your list should include features such as hauling capacity, transmission type, fuel economy and mileage if you are purchasing a used truck.
You should also examine the sleeping compartment to see if it fits your needs. Make sure to take trucks for a test drive before handing over your money.
When you examine a used truck at the lot, make sure there are no signs of rust on the vehicle, uneven spaces on body panels or signs of other defects. In addition, arrange for an independent mechanic to evaluate the vehicle.
Take Care of Insurance and Other Financial Tasks
When you begin working an as independent truck operator you will need to purchase truck insurance plus disability and life insurance to protect yourself in the event of an accident. Some semi truck dealerships offer insurance packages to customers.
In addition to insurance you should also seek help from a small business lawyer and an accountant with experience serving truck drivers to help you decide how to structure your new business.
The lawyer can help you file the paperwork to register you new business in your state and the accountant will help you organize and file state and federal taxes.
Stay Abreast of Changes to State and Federal Regulations
Trucking regulations continue to evolve so it is crucial for you to stay abreast of new state and federal laws. Joining a trucking industry group is one way to stay informed of proposed and new laws. In addition, pay attention to news bulletins from your state's transportation agency as well as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
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