There is a growing belief that the way truck drivers are paid is leading to unsafe practices. The majority of truck drivers are paid by the mile, rather than by the hour. When a truck driver is stopped in traffic or is waiting for the truck to be loaded or unloaded, that driver is not getting paid. Obviously, getting paid by the mile is an inducement to drive too fast and to drive in weather that makes conditions unsafe. Truck drivers are exempted from the Fair Labor Standards Act which mandates the minimum wage. New legislation was proposed to the U.S. Senate last week that would require employers to pay truck drivers for the hours they work, rather than for the miles they drove.
The proposed Truck Safety Act contains other provisions also intended to make trucking safer. The bill would increase minimum insurance levels carried on trucks, something that is long overdue. It would also require speed limiting devices and new rules regarding collision avoidance systems. Finally, the bill calls for a study into the effects of excessive commuting among truck drivers.
The trucking industry currently faces a shortage of qualified drivers. The total amount of freight shipped by truck is expected to increase by more than 60 percent by 2040. The driver shortage is expected to get much worse, and soon. While trucking companies will likely oppose this bill, it is time they looked at new ways to make their industry an attractive place for employees. Guaranteeing that truck drivers actually got paid for the work they do, all the work they do, would be one smart way to do that.
Source: Truckinginfo, "Senate Bill Calls for Hourly Pay for Truck Drivers," by Deborah Lockridge, 13 July 2015