CDL Driver Resource Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Stop pay is a type of compensatory pay that truck drivers get for performing scheduled stops on a load that they are hauling. It is common practice in the truck industry that the pickup and final delivery are always included with the load so normally drivers do not receive any additional stop pay for the pickup or delivery. Most of the time, stop pay is only offered for stops that are in the middle of the initial pickup and final delivery. However, some companies do offer stop pay for all stops even the final delivery so keep this in mind when comparing job offers.

When comparing stop pay policy between companies be sure to take into account the estimated time it might take to complete a stop.  One company might offer a higher stop pay amount, but the average time on the companies stop might take 2-3 times longer.  If the stops are taking a long time to get finished then the higher stop pay usually won’t make up for the driver’s increased down time.  The problem with long stop times is that they burn up the driver’s available hours for the day.  In the long run too many stops may decrease the amount of miles a driver is able to receive in a given week.

Drop and hook is a common term within the trucking industry that refers to a situation when a driver delivers a load at the final delivery location for a customer and all the driver has to do is drop the trailer and simply pick up a new trailer.  The benefit of drop and hook freight is that the driver does not have to spend time waiting to be unloaded.  Drop and hook loads are also desirable because it allows the driver to better plan out their day.  Drop and hook loads also decrease the chances of something going wrong on the load assignment that ends up causing a driver to have more down time. For example, drivers that operate on a drop and hook loads will never experience detention time because there is no need to wait for a customer to unload the trailer.  When researching future trucking companies, one good question to ask is to find how much drop and hook freight the company operates.

Detention time is the amount of time it takes for either a shipper or receiver to load or unload the driver during a scheduled appointment.  For example, a driver has a scheduled delivery for 10:00 AM.  The driver arrives 1 hour early and the receiver is unable to take the driver early.  The driver waits for his appointment time.  At 10:00 AM the receiver is unable to take the driver.  The driver ends up waiting until 2:00 PM until the receiver is able to start offloading the driver.  It ends up taking the receiver 1 hour to fully unload the driver.  In this scenario the driver would have a total of 5 hours of detention.  The load appointment was scheduled for 10:00 AM and the drivers load was not fully finished until 3:00 PM.

Driver typically do not like any amount of detention time because if the driver remained on duty during the scheduled delivery then the driver’s clock would have continued to run.

Many trucking companies pay the driver an additional per hour detention time pay for any detention time that has occurred.  Common practice is that drivers must give the shipper or receiver a standard time of 2 hours of detention time before any additional compensation is due.  In the above example, the driver with 5 hours of detention time would only be owed a total of 3 hours of detention pay.  When comparing trucking companies be sure to ask what the company’s detention time policy is.  How much per hour does that company pay per hour for detention and how many hours of detention is given for free? Also, some companies do not automatically pay detention time, instead, they require the driver to ask for detention time on a case by case basis so be sure to get all of these questions answered when researching various job offers.

Like detention time, layover pay is a type of add pay that some trucking companies issue to drivers when they spend a predefined amount of time not moving because of a lack of dispatch or load assignment. The criteria for being eligible for layover varies between trucking company. Some companies may require the driver to be sitting for 24 hours with no movement on the tractor.  Other companies may not pay anything for layover.  If trucking companies refuse to pay layover then the driver has little protection in case the company is slow on freight or unable to keep the driver properly pre-planned. Ideally, truck drivers should never want to experience layover pay because layover pay will usually not compensate the driver the same as hauling freight.  However, companies that offer layover should give the driver a little more peace of mind than companies that don’t.

Many companies will pay the same rate of pay regardless of whether the truck is loaded or empty, but drivers must be careful when researching potential trucking companies because some companies have decided to pay the driver a lower rate of pay when the truck is dispatched empty. Companies that pay less when the truck is empty ends up hurting the drivers overall pay.

For example, a company might offer .46 CPM for loaded miles and only .40 CPM for empty miles.  The difference in pay makes it tough for potential recruits to determine what their effective rate of pay will be which makes it more challenge to compare offers between trucking companies.  This is due to the uncertainty in empty miles.  In any given week how many miles will the driver operate empty?   For example: Let’s say a driver ran 2500 miles for the week.  2000 miles were loaded and 500 miles were empty.  Since 20% of the drivers miles were empty it means that 20% of the drivers pay will be at the lower rate.  In this example the drivers overall pay would be:

2000 * $0.46 = $920

500 * $0.40 = $200

Total gross pay is $1,120 for 2500 miles which equals an effective CPM rate of $0.448 CPM.

Carriers will justify the lower rate of pay because the company is not making money for empty miles in-between loads.  They might also say that they make up for the lower empty rate of pay by offering a higher loaded rate of pay.  Whatever the case, it is not the driver’s responsibility to determine how a loaded/empty split pay package will affect them.  It you are thinking about working for a company that offers this type of pay package be sure to estimate what your overall effective rate of pay will be.

APU is short of Auxiliary Power Unit.  Some trucks have APU’s equipped to help reduce the tractors idle cost by offering a more fuel saving solution to idling the tractor. The APU is a self-contained generator that powers up the auxiliary equipment within the cab of the tractor.  Some APU’s are even capable of running the heat and AC within the tractor. The higher the cost of diesel the better return on investment an APU will provide.  Since APU’s only use a portion of the fuel that idling the tractor would the need for APU increase as the cost of diesel increases.

Auxiliary power units (repeatedly referred to as APUs) remove the need to run truck engines on idle while parked and are regularly used by truck drivers to monitor fuel use. One drawback of these units is that they normally weigh several hundred pounds, and could be a problem for drivers who carry close to highest weight limits. With the president’s latest expansion of the MAP-21 bill dealing with state-by-state APU regulations, this may be confusing to drivers who habitually cross state lines.

Below we’ve placed a helpful guide, created by fleet tracking systems company Track Your Truck, that notifies drivers just how much APU weight is exempt in each state.

APU Exemption Guide


A power inverter is a device that hooks to the tractors battery supply and switches the tractors DC current and turns it into usable AC current.  Some tractors have power inverters already pre-installed by the manufacture. When the tractor does not come equipped with an APU from the factory after market power inverters can be installed in order to provide the driver with a usable source of power.  Drivers use power invertors to supply power to coffee makers, microwaves, TV’s, Etc.

Some trucking companies prohibit the use of power inverters in their tractors or they will restrict the wattage limit of the device in their tractors. If you are a driver looking for a new carrier to work for then be sure to ask the company if they allow power inverters and what their limit is on the device.

CSA stands for Carrier Safety Administration and is short for FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). The FMCSA offers a way for the public to get additional information about a trucking carrier that they otherwise might be difficult to find elsewhere. If you are a driver looking to research a prospective employer you may want to take some time and look them up within the SMS (Safety Measurement System) 

A PSP Report (Pre-Employment Screening Program) is a report that some trucking companies use to help make more informed hiring decisions about potential drivers who have applied to work for them.  The PSP report offers a commercial driver’s 5 years crash history and 3 year inspection history.