Truck Drivers Weigh In On Industry Overhaulby Jana Ritter - Published: 6/17/2015
The truck driver shortage has been an ongoing news topic and a problem that industry leaders say is only getting worse. But while hiring companies keep trying solutions such as signing bonuses, benefits, paid training and shorter routes, truck drivers are speaking out and weighing in on how the entire industry needs an overhaul. While it's certainly not surprising that a recent industry survey found the majority of truck drivers consider pay as the number one factor in determining where they work, there is a little more to it than simply how much. In fact, many truck drivers are now saying that the real problem is not even about how much they get paid but how they're getting paid and the by-the-mile plan doesn't seem to be working so well, especially for long haul drivers.
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Adding to this problem is the fact that many people outside of the industry, including lawmakers don't even realize that most truck drivers are getting paid by-the-mile or they certainly don’t realize what this really entails for the truck drivers actually sitting behind the wheel. Some truck drivers say that the problem isn't even the driving part, it's the time spent sitting idle in traffic and hours spent waiting to load and unload, making no money at all. People don’t realize how common it is for truck drivers to arrive at their delivery destination even a few minutes after closing and are forced to sleep in their truck overnight, waiting until the morning to unload. You might make a killing in overtime doing this on a regular job, but for truck drivers it usually means more time on the clock and not getting paid for it at all.
One truck driver who wished to remain anonymous told the Los Angeles Times the extent of how inefficient this payment system truly is. “Because payment is by the mile, warehousers and others don't respect drivers' time. Any inefficiency in their operation — and even from my own carrier — is soaked up by the driver at no cost to anyone else,” he said.
Many also say that the paid-by-the-mile model is not only unfair to truck drivers, but unsafe for everyone on the road. Especially with the added time constraints of the recent HOS regulations, the pay-per-mile plan pressures truckers to speed in order to pack on more miles before they clock out. For other truck drivers, the worst part of this payment model is the constant uncertainty of never really knowing your income any given week. Even the most regular route and consistent driving can’t predict mechanical issues, traffic delays, bad weather conditions or delivery hold-ups. In fact, for some truck drivers the inconsistent pay has turned out to be an even worse predicament than a low paying job.
The Los Angeles Times investigated the issue and found one exceptional company that actually changed their payment system for these very reasons. The company explained it made the change about fifteen years ago when they realized that even though they were following the HOS rules, the drivers were fatigued, and obviously more accident-prone. They did a complete overhaul and switched all of the drivers to shorter schedules and began paying them by the hour so they wouldn’t have to compromise their income.The company says that since then, they have improved their safety record and have been attracting and retaining the more experienced, reliable type of drivers that every company wants to work with. According to them, the hourly pay model is a win-win solution for all.
Do you agree that pay-by-hour is the ultimate answer or is there a wider scoped solution to improving the trucking industry all around?