Trucker Tools had the good fortune recently to interview Frank and Stephanie Rebelo, also known as The Trucking Couple. In our conversation with The Trucking Couple, we learned how and why the husband and wife team became team drivers for FedEx’s Custom Critical division and what it’s like to live and work together on a truck. In our conversation with Frank and Stephanie, Frank offered advice to truckers who are considering team driving, which we share with you below in this blog. But first, some basics on team driving and what makes it different from other kinds of trucking.
What Is Team Driving?
Team driving is exactly what it sounds like: instead of having one trucker in the truck, you have two who take turns driving. Team driving is an attractive option because it keeps the truck moving. Instead of stopping the truck to rest and to meet HOS requirements, the truckers trade places and the wheels keep rolling. Income for team drivers is usually higher than it is for solo driving because the truck is moving more. Many (but not all) team drivers are couples and/or married.
Learn To Work and Live as a Team
One of the more challenging aspects of team driving is sharing a small space with another person. While you’re behind the wheel, your co-driver will be in the sleeper behind you trying to sleep or just kick back and rest. It can be hard to give one another space, but as Frank points out, it’s essential to have time off from your co-driver.
“As far as driving, it takes time getting use to a team,” says Frank. “One person is usually resting while the other person is driving. Even though you’re five or six feet apart from each other while one person is sleeping, you’re not always awake and in each other’s face throughout the whole day. That’s something that you have to get used to.”
“One person is usually resting while the other person is driving. Even though you’re five or six feet apart from each other while one person is sleeping, you’re not always awake and in each other’s face throughout the whole day. That’s something that you have to get used to.”
Divide Responsibilities and Set a Schedule
One of the most important things you must do as a team driver is to establish who is responsible for what. This includes developing a schedule for who drives when. Many team drivers split the day in half, where one driver takes the wheel during the daytime hours and the other drives at night.
“Stephanie and I are on a pretty hard schedule where I’m up from 8:00 AM until 8:00 PM — those are my driving hours — and she drives from 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM,” said Frank. “She tries to stay on our schedule so that her sleep schedule doesn’t get messed up. Sometimes we’re down for a weekend, like we are right now, and we get to spend time in San Francisco and do things like that. But it kind of throws her off schedule a little bit, so that’s something you’ve got to be cognizant of.”
Understand It’s a Lifestyle Change
One of the most difficult aspects of being a trucker is being away from home and missing friends, loved ones and events. Team drivers usually are out on the road for longer stretches of time than solo drivers, often between two and six weeks at a time, and may run 6,000 miles/week or more. According to Frank, this goes with the territory of being a team driver, but it may take some getting used to.
“It’s a lifestyle change. You’re away from things you know all the time. For instance, my wife is social and has her friends and everything. But we miss a lot of events back home — you know, birthdays, christenings, weddings and things like that. And you just have to kind of understand that you are going to miss a lot of those things or you can prioritize what’s most important to you in terms of things you don’t want to miss.”
For more on team driving and The Trucking Couple, read The Trucking Couple on Team Driving and How the Trucker Tools Driver App Simplifies Their Life on the Road. Download Trucker Tools’ free, newly redesigned driver app: https://www.truckertools.com/carriers/.