Truckers Aren't Paid Enough

August 8, 2018

Awhile back we talked about the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate, which y'all are familiar with by now. We certainly don't need to educate you on that. While the ELD mandate was intended to reduce the number of trucking accidents and improve the overall safeness of the road, the results are arguable.

 

We have personally heard from truckers who admit to driving a little faster than the speed limit, driving even when tired to meet deadlines, to arrive before they get penalized.

 

A 2016 study conducted by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Foundation (OOIDAF) showed that carriers with ELDs experienced more crashes than carriers without ELDs. Using publicly available information from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Aministration’s (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety, and Accountability Safety Measurement System website, the OOIDAF discovered that the average crash rate per 100 power units was 5.2 for carriers with ELDs but only 3.5 for carriers without ELDs. While fatigue is often haphazardly linked to hours-of-service compliance, FMCSA's database demonstrates that roughly 1.5 percent of large truck fatal crashes were related to fatigue between 2011 and 2014. This suggests that relatively few, if any, crashes will actually be reduced due to the mandatory utilization of ELDs.

 

Based on statistics from the FRG Law Firm, the number of crashes involving Swift Transportation, which uses ELDs, has increased by about 50 percent since 2012. In the 24-month period prior to Dec. 3, 2017, Swift drivers were reported to have been involved in 2,256 crashes with 657 injuries and 67 deaths. Swift isn’t alone among carriers with ELDs witnessing large increases in crashes since 2012; J.B. Hunt’s number of crashes increased by 86 percent, while the number of FedEx crashes increased by 254.5 percent.

 

Trucker Stephen Wright shared his view on it. He used to set his own schedule, knowing his body and how he could balance driving and taking a break. Here is a quote from his interview with Business Insider.

 

"Truckers are paid by the mile, but usually don't spend a full 11 hours driving. They might spend six unpaid hours at unloading sites, which cuts into how many hours they spend driving and earning money. With the cap now set at 14 hours of overall work a day, Wright is unable to squeeze in an extra five hours of driving after unloading his truck.In addition, Wright said drivers are also forced to take 30-minute breaks every eight hours, even if they just spent six of those hours at an unloading site.A few hours here and there add up over time. Wright said squeezing in an extra 1,000 miles in a week translates to $450.What's more, because nearly everyone takes their 10-hour breaks at the same time, Wright said parking is scarce at trucker stops. There's nowhere for drivers to park the trucks they'll sleep in for weeks, he said."

 

Current projections expect trucker salaries to fall up to $14,000. All of the above issues are causing veteran drivers to quit, and deincentivizing new drivers which is only worsening the driver shortage and causing higher costs and delivery delays.

 

What if there was another way?

 

A trucker (and photographer. We love this combo; y'all post some amazing pictures from the road) from England moved to the United States. He drove for the U.S. and for Canada. After ten years, he sat down and wrote a blog explaining what the U.S and Canada are doing it wrong, and how England has been doing it right.

 

In England, whenever the weather was bad, drivers would pull over and wait it out. Here, drivers push through, even if the roads are dangerous. Why is this?

 

The difference, he explains, is in the way truckers are paid. Here in the States and Canada, truckers are paid per mile, so it doesn't matter how fast or slow they go. We confess, this sounds great on the surface. This also means that if they're standing around, waiting for a truck to load, they aren't being paid. Stuck in traffic? Not paid. It seems then, that truckers could cruise. Take their time, take a few extra roads, get paid more money. The system has a way to counter this mentality, though. They penalize truckers for arriving late. So while arriving sooner won't get them paid more, it prevents getting paid less.

 

He goes on to say that England is different. There, you are paid per hour. If you are unable to drive for six hours while you wait for the trailer to be loaded, you are paid. You receive regular breaks, paid and unpaid, so can take a break without dollar signs floating away. If you are trapped in bad weather, you can pull over and wait it out. Meanwhile, incentives and penalties can still exist to encourage drivers to be on time with deliveries and not take their time.

 

What do you think? Would you rather be paid per hour or by the mile? Let us know in the comments below!

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