It is no secret that employers will pay employees as little as possible to maximize profits. The law sets a floor for hourly wage, though some companies attempt to get below even that paltry figure. The impact of wages, particularly low wages, on employee health and morale is concerning in many industries. In the trucking industry, pay practices may even have a detrimental impact on safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is now conducting a study to better understand the relationship between how much drivers earn and how safely they operate their vehicles.
Trucking industry representatives have bemoaned a shortage of qualified truck drivers for some time. The problem is expected to grow in the future as the industry grows and the current crop of drivers retire or lose the ability to drive safely. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average commercial driver in the U.S. is 55. The industry has had significant trouble attracting younger drivers to accept the working conditions and salary offered by most companies.
The way in which drivers are paid has obvious safety implications. Drivers are required to get a certain amount of rest to remain safe. They are not paid for this time, even if it occurs in truck stops far from home. There is enormous incentive to keep driving past the point of safety in order to get paid. The FMCSA will look at how the “various methods by which drivers are compensated” impacts safety.
Source: Truckinginfo, “FMCSA Will Study Driver Pay Impact on Safety” by Oliver Patton, 29 August 2014