5 Tips For Paid By the Mile Truckers — Keeping Your Carrier Honest

Truck Driver Standing Beside his truck at sunset

Scrutinizing your paycheck as a truck driver is a necessity.

If you are paid by the mile by your trucking company, you should be cross-checking your paid miles from the company, to your own records.

Because the truck driver’s wages are based on a per mile traveled system, it is paramount in importance to be sure that you are being paid for all the miles you have driven.

While I accept that there may be a valid argument for trucking companies not to pay hub miles, or from the odometer, many carriers have a practice of underpaying the actual miles driven.

This is NOT acceptable.

However, it’s very common in the trucking industry and an easy way for the carrier to save some money at the driver’s expense.

Even all but the most dishonest of carriers will admit that paying by the ‘Household Mover’s Guide’ is a thing of the past because of the short miles represented within the guide.

Truck Driver Standing Beside his truck at sunset

PC Miler Program Explained

A common standard today for calculating mileage is a computer program called PC Miler. It’s one that I have personally used for many years, although now, there are many on the market now which are excellent.

This program has two different settings for routing to calculate miles for a trip — shortest miles and practical miles settings.

Shortest Route

On the shortest miles setting, the program will route the truck through ‘no truck zones’ and residential areas, and other restricted areas and roads.

The shortest miles setting is not a safe or a practical route for a big truck, yet many trucking companies pay their drivers using this setting, of course, to increase their profits.

To be brutally honest, trucking companies that utilize the ‘shortest miles’ settings on a mileage program, are stealing from you.

They know perfectly well that a truck can’t possibly use such routing.

If this is happening to you at your company, you’re certainly with the wrong trucking company.

If you are looking around for a new trucking job, this is one of the first questions you should ask the company. “What mileage program do you base your calculated paid miles from?”

Practical Miles

‘Practical miles’ is just like it sounds.

The program provides a practical route for a big truck to travel, from point A to point B.

The program still has some flaws and it may sometimes route a truck to cut corners, to save miles occasionally. But overall, the programming is pretty fair and reasonable accurate, as I’ve discovered over many years of use.

This software updates it’s program periodically and offers more options from time to time,  such as hazmat routing.

But for the most part, there are very few significant changes in the mileages from version to version, because very few new highways are ever added to our highway system.

Older systems run from zip code to zip code. The newer systems can actually run from exact street address to street address.

Obtain a Printout For Verification

The problem with the carriers is that though while they may claim they are paying you practical miles, they’re rarely, if ever, are willing to provide you with a copy of the mileage printout to verify the mileages you’re being paid.

This should set off alarm bells for you.

Ask  your carrier for printouts for each of your trips from their mileage software program and compare them to your pay statements.

If the carrier’s response  to your request is ‘We don’t have time to do that for every driver’, be sure to point out that every driver isn’t asking, but you are.

I’m sorry to say, shorting driver pay is an old common practice by some carriers in the trucking industry.  

Some carriers save thousands of dollars every week by shorting their drivers miles.

Mileage Program in Driver’s Lounge

Suggest to the trucking company that it would be helpful to have a computer with the mileage program available in the driver’s room, so truck drivers can check their own pay statements.

If the carrier still declines, there’s obviously something stinky going on.

Why wouldn’t a reputable carrier want to and be willing to prove to it’s drivers that their pay is correct?

There can only be one reason why they refuse.

Many of the other drivers will be aware of the facts and perhaps with pressure from a majority of their drivers, the company will comply.

It’s also helpful to purchase your own mileage program for use at home on your own PC, although unfortunately, these programs can be expensive.

If you are fortunate enough to have access to a high quality mileage software program, generate print outs of your trips and hand the printouts in to dispatch with your paperwork for the trip, so the company knows you have the ability to accurately track your miles.

In an industry which pays by the mile, nothing is more important for you as a truck driver, than being certain the miles you ARE being paid are accurate.

Every single dollar that you earn, should be in YOUR pocket.

Money stacked up

5 Tips For Truckers/By the Mile

  • Keep track of the miles you’ve driven. Whether a phone app, a notebook and track from the odometer, your own mileage software, or whatever. Just do it.
  • Mileage program. Do your research and get your own app or software to verify your miles driven. Also take the time to understand the program and it’s capabilities. There’s a lot of information to be had from some programs.
  • Obtain a printout of miles driven report from your carrier. Then use it to compare to your own program as a reference.
  • Do not tolerate not being shorted on miles. If you do, the issue will most likely not improve, but get worse over time. If the company is shorting you money earned, you can bet they don’t have your personal safety on the top of their agenda either. Look for a better trucking company to work for.
  • Keep your records in a safe place for a long time. Whether you stay or leave a company that is shorting miles on your pay, keep those detailed records and verification of the shortages for a long, long time. Trucking companies are being hauled into court to pay drivers who they have cheated. If your company ever gets taken to task, you’ll definitely want to have those records on hand.


Should I quit a trucking company where I find I’m being cheated on my pay for miles driver?

Well that depends mostly on you.
– Have you been with the company for a long time? If so, perhaps a sit-down meeting with them may prove to fix the issue.
– Ask around to other drivers. Are there other drivers in the same situation? If so, this may not be the best choice of carriers and it may be time to move on.
– Give the company a chance to correct the problem. If it was clearly a one time error, that’s one thing. But if it continues from pay to pay, it may be time to move on.

Is being paid by the hour a better system for truck driver pay than being paid by mileage?

– Being paid by the hour is certainly easier to track and verify, especially now with the implementation of E.L.D’s. There’s definitely no denying how long a driver has spent behind the wheel in a certain time block.
– An hourly rate can be a good thing IF the rate of hourly pay is fair, and not too low, like at minimum wage.

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