The issues of truck driver pay has been a sensitive issue for truckers for a long, long time.
Taking into consideration, the numerous duties, time and sacrifices by a professional driver, the pay isn’t nearly enough.
The salary of a truck driver today, does not come close to compensating the trucker for the work they perform….today’s driver wages are about on par with the same salary that truckers were making back in the ’80’s and ’90’s. Given the dramatic cost of living increase over the past 20-30 years, it’s no wonder there’s a serious shortage of drivers….. women and men are just not attracted to a job which doesn’t pay in accordance to the skill level demanded by the job, nor the time invested.
The trucking industry has developed a so-called standard for paying drivers….. most compensation packages for truckers are based around a mileage rate. With today’s excessively busy and overcrowded highways, electronic log book implementation, speed limiters etc., this translates into less money earned by the driver….. drivers sit around for many, many hours each week, and don’t turn a mile…. wheels aren’t turning and you’re not earning.
Here’s a few things that many truckers are not paid for:
- sitting in traffic jams
- waiting at customs, border crossings
- loading and unloading time delays
- DOT scales and DOT inspections
- extra time weighing and scaling a load
- performing circle check on truck and trailer
- company safety meetings and seminars
- weather delays
- making arrangements for company equipment breakdowns and waiting for repair, when on the road
The above rate of pay schedule is an average rate of pay range for Canadian and U.S. truckers. A more detailed breakdown of the pay rate for truckers, would vary according to state/province, years of driving experience, bonuses etc. However, there are not any reliable current rates published, to reflect accurate pay rates.
Cell Phones – An Added Expense For the Driver
Trucking companies expect their drivers to have cell phones. Guess who gets to pay for it? The trucker, of course.
The cell phone has become a tool of the trade, and a pricey tool it can be. It’s
needed to call customs brokers and agents, customers and dispatch and for the convenience of the carrier, to contact the driver.
A smattering of trucking companies give an allowance to the truck driver, to at least help offset some of this expense.
Truckers don’t earn enough money to be expected to carry this added expense, especially for the convenience of the trucking company.
Carriers Avoiding Paying Layovers
Carriers like to avoid delays as delays cost them money, so they like the owner operator to arrange on the road repairs for the trailers. They try to avoid paying for layovers. Not so much company drivers, but often owner operators pay for on-the-road equipment repairs for company trailers and then wait to be reimbursed for the costs.
It’s a win-win situation for the company. They benefit from the fast, efficient repair, and then the truck is back on the road, on schedule.
In most cases, the driver makes nothing for his time making repair arrangements and/or waiting while the equipment is repaired…. and yet it’s THE COMPANY’S equipment.
The driver ought to be compensated hourly for waiting for the equipment repair and a layover if necessary. This is often an exercise in frustration for the driver…. companies sometimes try everything they can to avoid paying a driver for waiting in a situation such this.
Cheap Freight Rates = Cheap Driver Pay
Long haul truck drivers are not properly compensated for all of the extra time they donate doing their work.
There’s not a trucking company out there, who would be willing or quite frankly, could afford to give a trucker what they’re really worth. This stems from the fact that shippers are getting away with paying rates that are far too cheap.
In this industry, it’s really nothing new. It’s something since deregulation, shippers have been getting away with, and the industry and accepted the rate slashing.
Now, that the practice has been going on for such a long time, the mindset in the trucking industry is ‘Well, it’s ‘industry standard’.
Such a ludicrous, ridiculous statement, to expect truckers to donate free time. I find it interesting that no other workers in the trucking industry…. dispatchers, fork truck operators, dock staff, administration workers, secretaries etc., work for free for a portion of their work week.
But for the truck driver? Well, it’s part of the job.
Slow Changes in the Industry
Whether you are a company driver, an owner operator or an independent trucker, it’s highly unlikely that your rate of pay, truly comes close to compensating you for your time and work.
There are a handful of trucking companies and niches in the business, which try hard to give drivers a decent rate. I know most companies though, are not paying their drivers what they should be….. often due to the lousy rates paid by shippers.
Our calculations tell us that in a 70 hour work cycle, a minimum of at least 10 hours of time goes unpaid for the average trucker.
However, slowly….. thanks to the demands and voice of the trucker, truck driver pay is slowly changing and improving. Companies are starting to pay for some of the delays. But it still has a long way to go.
Drivers in Europe have experienced a reform in driver pay, a few years ago. Most are paid an hourly rate, a much more equitable pay system, than the North American mileage rate structures.
Mileage vs Hourly Truck Driver Pay Rate: A Safety Issue
Because North American truck driver pay is based on a mileage rate for most driving jobs, there’s always that underlying urge for the trucker, to be moving and hurry. If the truck isn’t moving, the driver earns nothing.
It’s not difficult to so why the trucking industry is so heavily criticized for safety issues. If a trucker doesn’t pick up the pace every now and then, he’d starve to death.
More attention ought to be paid to this issue which ultimately becomes a safety issue. If this industry really focused on safety, it would be mandatory to pay a driver on a different pay schedule other than mileage.
Truckers: Have YOU Done the Math?
* Take the TOTAL number of hours you spend at work in a week.(Example: 70)
* Take your TOTAL net pay for the week. (Example: $650)
* Divide by the number of hours you’ve worked in a week.
$650 divided by 70 hours = $9.28/hr
In this example, the driver is working for less than a minimum hourly wage. From this wage, the trucker also has the out of pocket expense of meals……
Maybe at minimum around $100 or so for meals on the road for a week? Maybe a few other out of pocket expenses on the road?
So the driver is left with approximately $550 net pay/week.
Truckers donate and give far too much to this business already. They spend long periods of time away from home, away from their families, risk their lives on the road, live a lifestyle that at times is pretty rugged, and then to make an hourly wage that violates labour laws and falls below the poverty level?
It just adds insult to injury.
What’s a Trucker to Do About Low Wages?
There won’t be reform or an about face anytime soon for this pay issue, but there are a few ways you can do your best to combat the issue and get the most money you’re able from your driving job.
** Say NO to waiting for free. Companies expect drivers NOT to ask for waiting time pay… don’t play into their hands. There’s nothing wrong with asking politely,…. ‘What does that PAY?’ They count on 95 % of drivers NOT to ask.
** Don’t settle for working at just ANY trucking company. Remember… there’s a driver shortage. Take the time to research pay packages for as many carriers as you can. Do your research and talk to presently employed drivers or o/o with the company. Seek out a company who pays some waiting time, gives a cell phone allowance, and has a decent compensation package. Researching 4 or 5 companies is a lazy effort. Do your homework and be diligent. There are good companies out there. Aim for getting the most perks and pay possible for your efforts.
Driving a big big is a tough job. It’s not for the faint of heart. Get paid for what you do. You’ve earned it and you deserve it.
- What Keeps a Trucker Happy?
- Tips for Keeping Your DAC Report Clean
- The Changing Image of the Professional Driver
- The Trucker Shortage
- Truckers Leave the Industry Due to Low Wages