The Big Picture

They say one picture’s worth 1,000 words. How about 1,000 numbers? That’s what you’ll find in the new 2004 Overdrive Owner-Operator Behavior Report. Those numbers paint an accurate portrait of typical owner-operators and their status as a group within the industry.

The number of Class 8 trucks owner-operators control dropped by roughly 4,600 to 235,000 in 2003, according to the report prepared by Commercial Motor Vehicle Consulting. That’s because multiple-truck owners shed wheels they couldn’t keep rolling during the lean-freight years of 2001 and 2002. The good news is that after that decline in freight volume, the owner-operator population stabilized in 2003 at 154,000 for-hire leased or independent businesses, and that number appears to be improving.

Who is the typical Overdrive reader? He’s a 52-year-old married man. He graduated from high school and worked 10 years as a company driver before establishing his business 17 years ago. His average income is $41,800.

This annual market behavior report goes into much greater detail about purchasing and operating habits, such as the percentage of owner-operators who pull a flatbed or the distribution of complaints by those who feel cheated by freight brokers. If you’re an equipment maker, you might be interested in the profiles and habits of owner-operators who buy your – or your competitors’ – products. [For more information on obtaining the report, call Chris Brady at CMVC, (516) 869-5954.]

If you’re a regular reader, you know that our editors share this data every month in feature stories and our Gauges department. Research such as this – the industry’s only in-depth study of a complex, changing market – is one reason Overdrive remains the authoritative magazine for owner-operators.