All Together Now

| August 01, 2005

Now Mark is back home in Warren, Ark., and the Taylors are planning to go back out on the road, this time as company drivers.

When they go, Lee will come with them. It’s good practice for the boy; he plans to become a trucker one day himself.

So You Want to Ride Along?
Ridealong policies vary from company to company, so if you want to bring along a friend, family member or pet now or in the future, you’ll need to ask about it up front.

“When he’s looking at any employer, that’s one of the first things he asks,” says Debra Burton, of her trucker husband Donald. “He’s worked for owner-operators before who said their insurance didn’t cover it, but they just turned a blind eye. They even gave me a permission slip to show the DOT.”

If passengers are allowed, you’ll need to find out what restrictions the company places on it. Some companies allow passengers only a certain number of times per year, some charge fees for passengers, some limit the number of passengers you can carry, some require doctor’s exams, and most require waivers absolving the company of responsibility if something goes wrong.

For example, at Contract Freighters, Inc., where Donald Burton drives, the company gives him an authorization for the person whose name is listed only. Other family members over age 12 can ride, but there is a fee for them and they have to be pre-authorized. Only one passenger is allowed at a time. Small dogs or cats are allowed if you pay a pet fee.

“We have a passenger pass procedure, so we get information on the passenger,” says CFI President Herb Schmidt. “Who’s the passenger? How long do they intend to have them riding? Just so we know who’s on the truck. We give them a form to carry with them in case they are questioned.”

Arrow Trucking has a similar policy. Riders are required to provide a copy of a photo ID and sign a waiver. Only immediate family members are allowed (grandparents can take grandchildren), and only children over 12 are allowed to ride, with the permission of both parents. Dogs and cats less than 50 pounds are allowed in the truck if the owner pays a $500 deposit.

Another restriction at Arrow and most companies, says Orientation Coordinator Debbie Bell, is that student drivers can’t bring along passengers. “The only restriction we have is the students have to wait till their probation period is out,” she says.

Even if you are an owner-operator, you should talk with the shippers and receivers to make sure they will allow non-drivers on their premises.

There’s usually no reason for the passenger to get out at a delivery or pickup, and for the passengers’ safety they probably shouldn’t exit the truck except for emergencies or quick visits to the restroom. “There’s usually no need for me to [get out],” Burton says. “Whenever I’ve had to – like for a restroom issue – it has never been a problem.

“Sometimes security will ask, ‘Who’s that?’ and they’ll write my name down, too. One place had a sign that said all ridealongs and pets should wait at the guard shack, but I just stayed in the passenger seat and no one said anything to me.”

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