What If Truck Drivers Weren’t Paid By The Mile?

The truck driver shortage is one of the hottest topics in the transportation industry right now.

And for good reason.

It's an issue that needs to be discussed, and addressed, sooner rather than later. The American Trucking Association predicts the shortage will increase from 48,000 in 2015 to 70,000 this year.

One of the reasons for the shortage is truck driver pay.  More specifically, how truck drivers are paid.  Let's take a closer look... 

The Problem with Truck Driver Pay

We recently came across this LA Times Op-Ed piece that claims truck driver pay is one of the major factors contributing to the truck driver shortage. Nearly every trucking company throughout the country pays their drivers by the mile. Rather than receiving pay, for instance, on a salary or by the hour, truckers only get paid for the miles they log on the road.

Often times, paying truck drivers this way doesn't take into consideration when a trucker is sitting waiting to load or unload at a dock, or at a stop waiting for their dispatcher to call them with their next assignment. Even though they're away from home and in many peoples' opinions still on the job, drivers often don't get paid for it.

This can be extremely challenging for both new and veteran drivers to deal with, and oftentimes ends up being a big part of the reason that so many drivers are quitting. If they aren't getting plenty of miles, they're sitting somewhere not making any money.

It Creates an Added Risk

Further adding to truckers' frustrations about the pay per mile system is government regulations. The DOT only allows drivers to be on the road for a certain amount of time before they have to take a mandated break. This can, in turn, make drivers feel rushed or feel the need to speed to get as many miles in as they can within their DOT time limit, which makes it dangerous out on the road for every driver.

A Possible Solution?

The article mentioned above references one trucking company that doesn't pay their drivers by the amount of miles they drive. Dupré Logistics, based out of Lafayette, La, has been paying their truckers by the hour for about 15 years.

They made the move to switch the way they pay their drivers because even though they were compliant with DOT regulations, their drivers were still coming back from trips extremely fatigued. Crash rates and turnover rates were high, so their solution was to shorten their routes to make it trips easier to make.

Normally, shorter routes mean less income, but Dupré also changed the way they paid their drivers to a by the hour system to avoid cutting pay. Low and behold, both the crash and turnover rates dropped significantly.

It's an intriguing solution, and makes us wonder what if the pay system throughout the trucking industry was different; and like any employee payment system, it doesn't come without its flaws. Trucking companies have generally paid their drivers by the mile since the industry's creation, and to get all of them to change their business models as such would be a daunting challenge.

What Do You Think?

You might be wondering, "What if carrier companies paid their drivers differently? Would the truck driver shortage not be as severe as it is? Would there even be a shortage?" The shortage and the way truckers are paid today are related to each other, and both need to be discussed by everybody. We'd love to hear your opinion on the matter!

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