Whether you’re just starting out or have been driving for a while, you may be looking for ways to diversify your skills and advance your career as a CDL driver in the trucking industry. Driving a refrigerated truck is one way to accomplish this and that’s why this whole post is focused there. Here are five top reasons you and your career might benefit from learning how to drive a reefer truck.
- Higher pay per mile
- Year-round work
- Longer hauls
- Flexibility to haul dry vans and reefer trailers
- Some trucking companies give bonuses or other incentives for reefer drivers
What does reefer mean in trucking?
Which type of freight you’re hauling is the main concern when it comes to reefer trucks, or refrigerated trucks. These specialized vehicles feature refrigeration units with temperature control to safely transport perishable goods like ice cream, fresh produce, pharmaceuticals and any other product that needs to be kept at a specific temperature.
Do reefer loads pay more?
Reefer truckloads do tend to pay more per load and per mile. However, reefer drivers can lose money due to spoilage and more waiting time when the receiver takes longer than expected to unload the trailer. Being an owner operator in this field falls into the category of more risk, more reward.
When considering driving a reefer, don’t let money be the only factor. Also look at what a reefer truck breakdown would require of you in difficult weather conditions, the effect of an LTL (less-than-truckload) on the rest of your schedule, and other situations that would be different with a reefer truck than a dry van. Even better, talk with a reefer driver to learn about their experience.
Is hauling reefer hard?
The answer to this question depends a bit on the driver. If you’re detail-oriented and don’t mind the constant additional hum of the cooling system right behind your truck cab, you’ll have an easier time hauling a refrigerated trailer. There will still be other challenges you wouldn’t have with a truckload that doesn’t have temperature requirements.
In addition to what we’ve already pointed out, reefer drivers sometimes work with receivers who have very specific requirements, such as breaking down the freight into smaller units before it can be unloaded. These can cost valuable time and energy.
What pays more – reefer or flatbed?
Truckers who choose reefer truckloads will generally earn more per load than those who opt for the flatbed work. Other things you’ll need to learn about to successfully drive a reefer truck are how to arrange freight to maximize temperature control, when it’s time to pull over and check the trailer, how to repair a reefer unit, and how to keep the freight safe for use when it arrives at its destination.