The truckers who drive too fast and resist the call for electronic logging of their drive/work time often do so because of incentives to make more miles. If a driver is paid by the mile, then obviously the more miles a trucker drives the greater his/her daily revenue. Too often, drivers are on the road for days at a time, and there is little else to do but drive, so why not go as fast and as long as possible to get home sooner and/or to make more pay? To make it even worse, most of these drivers are not paid for waiting time (called “detention time”), as they sit idling in their cabs to pick-up or deliver a load of vegetables, paper, or some electronic “must-have”. Many are not even paid for the back-breaking work of loading and unloading. The pay comes when the wheels are turning.
Some safe fleets pay their drivers much better and do not measure their productivity by miles driven. These are the companies that provide extra training to their professionals and spend the necessary money on technology to make their trucks safe and efficient. These same companies are likely to have the million-mile safe drivers and the proud professionals who can say they have never had an accident during a long career.
If a group of students was given an assignment to come up with the least safe way to pay truck drivers, they could hardly come up with a better answer than what is used on US highways. The vast majority of trucks drivers are paid by the mile. Clearly the incentives are all wrong in terms of safety with this pay mode. A reasonable argument can be made that truck drivers have at least as much responsibility for public safety as do airline pilots. After all, we buy tickets to get on airplanes, yet we are all around heavy commercial vehicles travelling at high speeds on our highways involuntarily on a daily basis. It is crucial that these hard-working truck drivers, who shoulder so much responsibility, be paid a professional’s wage, commensurate with that responsibility, for every hour worked plus overtime. The overtime exemption for truck drivers which dates from the 1930s is unacceptable in today’s environment. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to think of a profession that you would more want to get overtime than truck drivers.
Road Safe America wants the nation to recognize the value of all truckers and to demand a change compensation models so that drivers are paid a professional wage for all hours worked, regardless of whether their truck is moving, including overtime. Wouldn’t it be nice (and safe) if trucks on the same highways as your family were driven by truly safe, healthy, well-trained, alert professionals who are not being incentivized to drive long and fast?