Carrier Types – The Good, Bad, and Ugly

We recently put out an article on how to find the right carrier and one of our followers on Twitter asked if we could put out a list of things to look for in a carrier? We thought that was a great idea. Now a list could go on for pages and pages so we will be just pointing out the high points for new people but encourage you to do the proper research before signing on with any carrier. What is important to you as a driver will depend on where you are in your career, whether you are a driver or owner operator, and what your personal situation is as far as time away from home and more. That being said there are some things you need to watch for when looking for a place to work. So let’s get down to the Good, Bad, and the Ugly in carriers.

Not all carriers are alike

Let’s look at the good carriers first:

A good carrier will have a number of things in place to support their drivers and a culture that cares about their people whether on the road or in the office. For someone new out of a training facility the carriers that are able to hire you will be the larger carriers that can offer support like training that other smaller carriers may not have resources to work with, so here are a few things to look for or ask about when talking with a carrier.

  • Do they have a training program or finishing program for new drivers?
  • Do they have a good safety culture and resources to ensure someone is available to help with any problems?
  • Do they have well maintained equipment?
  • Do they have the type of freight that you are comfortable transporting?
  • Do they have an encouraging atmosphere?
  • Do they give you time to do the job properly?
  • Do they pay you properly for the work you do and have a benefit package?

The bad carriers for new drivers:

Some carriers are not necessarily bad but may not have the resources for new people in the areas of training or support. Many small family owned companies fall into this area and that doesn’t make them bad carriers on a whole, but they are looking for a certain experience level in a driver and that may not fit new people. Here is what to look out for in this type of carrier.

  • They look good on the outside, say all the right things, but operations asks you to do things that are questionable
  • They don’t have a training or finishing program for new drivers.
  • They have an attitude of getting the load to the destination no matter what.
  • They safety record is questionable.
  • They don’t respond to requests for help or support in a timely manner.
  • There is fighting within the drivers on loads and equipment.
  • They don’t have a decent pay or benefit package
  • Equipment is in good condition but older and needs lots of repair
  • They require at least two years of experience

The ugly carriers:

The carriers in the bad category are usually not bad people, just limited in resources. The carriers in the ugly category are often different and know they are breaking the law or operating improperly. Working for these types of carriers will not help your career and can even halt your career by being unsafe. If you come across these types of carriers you should run. There is a big difference between a carrier that is trying and doesn’t have enough resources to someone who is operating unsafe and putting the motoring public and their employees at risk. Here is what to look for in an ugly carrier.

  • The equipment is not maintained properly
  • They have a terrible safety record that are on the edge of being placed out of service
  • They have no training or finishing program and don’t plan on having one.
  • They have a terrible culture where everyone is afraid to voice concerns.
  • They ask you to operate as a “driver inc” model to avoid paying taxes.
  • You are not paid in time or your pay cheque is often short.
  • They don’t have enough freight to keep you busy or have long periods of waiting between loads.
  • They charge back their employees for items that the company should be paying for.
  • They don’t care who they hire.
  • They falsify documents.
  • You are constantly being pulled into scales throughout the country.
  • They operate as though they can be out of business at any moment.

Ask any experienced driver and I am sure they can add a host of many more items to all of these categories. Many carriers look the same so it is important to prepare questions to ask your potential employers. Working for a carrier that is unsafe can limit your career options because of the potential for an incident. A carrier that doesn’t care about safety can potentially kill someone halting your career and your life all together. Especially at the beginning of your career you need additional training and support and there are plenty of carriers that have that. A good place to start is the carrier group at

About the Author

Bruce Outridge is a veteran in the transportation industry with over 40 years in the industry in a variety of roles from driver to fleet supervisor and more. Today he is a media entrepreneur in the industry producing a number of programs within the trucking industry. You can learn more about Bruce, his work, and his trucking podcast at

Disclaimer: This article is written and based on the opinion of the author and is for general information only


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