Factors Affecting Truck Drivers in each State
Trucking is one of the largest and most important industries in the U.S., and when it comes to trucking, not all states are created equal. Truck driving opportunities vary widely from state to state based on several factors.
Since truck drivers get paid for moving freight, truck drivers always want to be pulling a loaded trailer, which means after delivering a shipment, drivers ideally want to be quickly loading their trailer and starting the next paying trip. Just like states when it comes to trucking, not all loads are created equal – a van shipment may pay less than a flatbed, and a flatbed may pay less than a reefer. In addition, prices may vary by state or even region within the United States. Therefore, the ability to precisely control where you deliver to and from is a great benefit. Paying attention to the best and worst states for outbound freight hauling can make a huge difference for truck drivers and their day-to-day career and hauling decisions.
As a truck driver, you will likely have your own ideas and preferences on where you want to work and travel. Although the number one factor determining a good trucking state is whether there are plentiful opportunities for drivers, there are other factors to consider as well. Here are a few:
Average pay to cost of cost of living
When it comes to trucking, truck drivers’ pay varies from state to state and does not necessarily correspond to the cost of living in each state. Truck driver compensation is more about the specific route being driven, freight being carried and the companies the driver works with. As with any industry, more difficult and less desirable jobs commonly pay more and not all drivers have the ability to relocate or work in states with lower costs of living. However, drivers’ pay will obviously go much farther in states with lower cost of living.
Quality of life
Driver pay is important, but it should not be the only basis for deciding which state to accept a truck driving job. Another consideration for truckers is the amenities a particular state offers. Trucking-friendly states often offer resources such as better roads and highway networks, more public rest areas and more truck stops as well as cheaper overnight parking. These factors can make a truck driver’s job easier, help to reduce stress and out-of-pocket costs.
Geographic Proximity and Natural Resources
Depending on the freight type being hauled or route type being driven, the geographic location and proximity to other states, international borders and shipping ports can necessitate the best states for certain types of drivers. Also, many states’ truck driving job opportunities are built around natural resource which it they produce and ship.
Freight Volume by State
The amount of freight being hauled varies from state to state which affects the number of drivers and often, the pay for truck driving jobs in that state. Overall, states with the most total freight being hauled includes Texas, California, Illinois and Ohio.
The types of freight being hauled varies from state to sates as well. Top states from flatbed hauling include Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi. Top states for reefer and refrigerated loads include Texas, California, Illinois, Ohio and Georgia. Top states for van loads include Texas, Illinois, Ohio, California and Georgia.
State of Population and its effect on Freeways systems
The population of a state or the metropolitan areas within a state make it more difficult to travel through states. Major roadways and densely populated cities can make traveling difficult for truck drivers.
Industry regulations in each state can also impact trucking companies and their drivers. Regulations often have a more significant impact on smaller companies who have a more difficult time adapting because of limited resources. For example, new equipment and personnel regulations can create extra expenses and trying to adhere to these regulations can be costly. As with any industry, these costs are often passed on to the trucking companies’ customer and can result in a reduction in driver pay.
Income taxes is a consideration for most working people – lower income taxes mean more take home pay. As of 2020, there are seven states that levy no personal income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. Two other states (New Hampshire and Tennessee) tax investment income and interest, but don’t tax wages. Since tax rules and regulations are ever changing and impact all individuals differently, seeking tax advice from your tax accountant before committing to new job in a new state is always highly recommended.