Abandon a Truck?
Abandon Your Future in Trucking!

Reasons why truckers may feel they want to abandon a truck include emotional stress, not getting home when promised, continual truck breakdowns, being issued a load under forced dispatch with a financial penalty attached, etc.

Let us also be clear about this: It is one thing to be carried away from your truck (such as might happen if you're involved in such a bad truck accident that you're taken to the hospital) and quite another to voluntarily walk away from your truck and your job.

If there is one "straw that broke the camel's back" in trucking, it would be to abandon a truck. This action -- which is even worse than taking actions that get truckers fired -- will almost certainly classify a trucker as unhirable by any trucking company ever again. Period. 

In today's economy, you don't want to render yourself never be able to drive professionally again.

Taking Care of What's Left Behind

A truck parked in a run down parking lot, as if abandoned.Once when we team drove for Swift, we were assigned to pick up an abandoned truck in Gas City, Indiana, and bring it to the nearest at-that-time terminal in Monroe, Ohio.

It had been parked in a rundown parking lot much like the one pictured here.

We have no idea why the driver chose to abandon a truck, only that he did.

It was amazing to us where the driver had left the key -- so easy to find! To this day, we shudder to think how easy it would have been for anyone to just grab the key, jump in and drive off.

To abandon a truck means that the truck that was left behind is fair game for theft or vandalism. (How would you like to be on the hook for abandoning a vehicle worth tens of thousands of dollars?)

By the way, it wouldn't have done any good for the trucker to have left the truck key "with" someone because where he parked it, there was no one to leave it with. Abandoned means abandoned.

Mike drove the abandoned truck while Vicki drove the company truck that had been issued to us to the designated terminal.

Pushed Too Far?

We completely understand how some truckers could be pushed to the brink by some unscrupulous trucking companies.

But never abandon a truck issued to you. You wouldn't abandon your own personal vehicle somewhere just because you got upset, would you?

A truck parked with its hood up.We've done our best to warn folks from hiring on with companies that have reports of exploiting truckers.

So consider your actions fully before you take drastic steps. Even deciding to bobtail or deadhead back to a terminal without permission (assuming you're a company driver) can put you in hot water.

We recommend keeping the lines of communication completely open with your driver manager.

Returning Your Truck

Instead of choosing to abandon a truck, here's what we recommend regarding returning your truck:

  • Clean out all of your possessions (if not at home, then perhaps into a rental vehicle);
  • Return the truck to a company terminal in excellent condition (make sure it's clean);
  • Make sure that a trucking company employee signs off on its delivery;
  • Get and keep a copy of the form that was used to sign off on the truck's delivery for your records; and
  • Turn in your keys and anything else that is required (like a company badge, fuel card, etc.).

Falsely Accused of Abandoning a Truck?

A truck parked on the shoulder of a ramp.How will you know if an "abandoned truck" charge was falsely placed on your record? Check your DAC report.

If you find an untrue report from your former trucking company, then take action. Do not take a false charge lightly!

Get in touch with the person whose name is at the bottom of the form used to sign off on your truck's delivery. If that person is no longer with the company, ask to speak with that person's supervisor. Keep going up the chain of authority until you get the matter resolved.

If you can't get resolution yourself no matter how high up in the company you go, you can always get trucker legal help. Share a copy of the signed delivery receipt with your attorney. This is your proof of your delivery. Your attorney will take it from there.

If you have no receipt, it's your word against their word. Written documentation is always the best proof. No truck abandonment charges!

Although it will likely do little good from the standpoint of clearing your name, you can also speak out about your experience online, perhaps on a truckers forum.

truck drivers money saving tip icon

Money saving tip: Know your trucking company's policy regarding turning in a truck. If your company does not have a truck return form (usually a checklist), create one and insist that it be signed.

Take a little bit of time to clean your truck inside. You can sweep the floor, run a hand held vacuum cleaner where needed, and use baby wipes to clean the dusty areas. Take the time to leave it in the shape that you would want the truck to be in if it was just being issued to you.

Make sure that the turn-in form accurately represents the state of the truck when you turn it in. When we were getting ready to leave Swift, the person who filled out the form generically assigned the truck as "dirty" inside. Oh no! We had cleaned it thoroughly. In fact, we left it cleaner inside than when the truck had first been issued to us. So we got him to change that to "clean" before we would sign off on the form.

Monitor your DAC report regularly as a matter of course against false entries.

Keep enough money in your emergency fund to cover a trip home in the event that you need it at any time. All car rental agencies that we know of require the use of a credit card to get a rental vehicle. So keep enough of a buffer in your credit line to permit a car rental and trip home.

Finally, if you were so agitated by your former trucking company that you were ready to abandon a truck, evaluate what it was that irritated you so much. Then, either work through that issue or find a company that doesn't behave the same way.

Return from Abandon a Truck? Abandon Your Future in Trucking! to our Truck Operations page or our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips home page.

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