5 Things Reefer Truck Drivers Need to Succeed

Reefer truck drivers face a cold, hard truth — driving refrigerated freight is a tough gig. Fortunately, there are ways to make life driving refrigerated trucks easier and even more profitable. And it all depends on the trucking company they choose. Here are 5 things reefer truck drivers should consider:

1. Consistency

Reefer truck drivers are expected to be prompt, reliable and consistent every load, every time. It’s only fair they expect the same from the company they’re driving for. Many drivers have been duped by companies who offer plenty of freight, only to see reefer runs dry up over time. When this happens, drivers are forced into the spot market, where wild swings can mean fewer miles and even less revenue per mile.

Before you join, consider getting a few references.  Ask for 4 or 5 drivers you can call to see if the pasture is as green as the recruiter says it is.  You’ll learn quickly just how consistent the company is in offering quality loads. After all, there’s usually a reason why drivers remain fiercely loyal, or move on to the next opportunity.

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2. Equipment Quality

Whether you’re an owner/operator, company driver or leasing assets, equipment failure and maintenance is your responsibility on the road. Modern refrigeration units have 200+ possible fault codes, any of which can jeopardize cargo at any time.

Look for a company that uses newer equipment. It indicates that the company is financially viable and planning for more growth. Plus, you’re likely to accrue more driving miles, and spend fewer hours parked on the side of the road.  

3. Specialty Pay

Reefer drivers typically earn more than other commercial truck drivers. And reefer drivers in the specialty markets can earn even more.

Look for companies that pay a percentage of the load. Why? Because they have a lot at stake financially with the load, and want to be assured drivers are invested, too. So, they seek the most consistent, reliable drivers — and compensate for those skills.

Seek companies that haul fresh items or cargo with limited shelf life. For example, hauling poultry is a booming business in the Southeast right now.

4. Drop Trailers

The more time reefer drivers are on the road, the more they earn. Live loading and unloading can be a painstakingly slow task that keeps drivers docked for extended periods. With only 14 hours on the clock per day, drop trailers have become a huge advantage for all drivers, especially those in refrigerated trucking.

Companies should be able to offer many drop-trailer options, so you can reduce wait times and maximize drive time. Simply drop one trailer off and pick up another one to keep revenues flowing.

5. Culture and Loyalty

Every company boasts about being a great place to work. It doesn’t take long to realize which companies are serious about putting it into practice.

Ask how many drivers each dispatcher manages. If that dispatcher has 50+ drivers on the road, how much time can be devoted to you? Other companies run with about 15 drivers for every dispatcher, which means they can offer more responsive, personalized support. In addition, trustworthy companies usually attract loyal, consistent customers. And that means steady year-round rates instead of inconsistent spot market rates for drivers.


You’re in the driver’s seat of where you work — and who you work for — now is a great time to advance your career as a reefer truck driver. Choose a company that can consistently offer quality work for quality pay — both today and tomorrow.


Paul Powell, Director of Reefer Operations, AMX

Prior to joining AMX, Paul owned Powell Transport Solutions, which was purchased by AMX in 2020. Paul’s background also includes owning a financial services firm.
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