Based on Miles or Based on the Clock?
The Modern Day Driver’s Biggest Dilemma!
Paying a truck driver is a lot more complicated than paying someone who is working as a cashier at your local Wal-Mart Store because a cashier stays there at the register for the time he/she is meant to be there and does his/her job i.e. handling the cash and transactions while the trucker has to move goods all over the country and in his/her job, they are not always driving the truck. Sometimes they are stuck in a traffic jam on an Interstate highway or are waiting at a loading dock for goods to be loaded or unloaded, or any number of other time-consuming events such as chaining their tires during snowstorm conditions.
That cashier is paid an hourly wage but the truck driver is paid per mile driven, a standard practice in the industry. But the question remains, Is that pay model fair for truck drivers?
The main reason behind this debate over the current pay model is that the pay per mile pay model was initially put in place because in old days it was nearly impossible to keep track of what a truck driver is doing. A trucker could be diverted from working and the contractor of the goods never know, so it was fair for the contractor to pay on a per mile driven basis so that the driver would avoid any unnecessary delays and jobs would be completed on time, within a given budget. But now times have changed.
From the electronic logging devices that will become mandatory for all trucks on Dec 18th to GPS tracking tools, an operator can now virtually be inside the cabin with the driver and know for sure how many hours the trucker has been at work. So if the operator knows how many hours the trucker has been at work, he also knows if there had been traffic jams on the journey that wasted the trucker’s time or there was an unnecessary delay at the dock or the local store during offloading or loading, so the trucker should also be compensated for those “Unnecessary delays” because he was “on his duty hours” at those times. It is only fair for the trucker to demand a wage for tasks that prolonged his delivery time and paying by the “miles driven” pay model would be akin to intentionally underpaying the trucker for his duties.
A pay per mile model means that if a trucker wants to earn more within a certain time, he would have to clock in as many miles as he can. That’s quite simple to understand. But, when unnecessary delays start kicking in, like a traffic jam, the driver will have to move faster to make up for the lost time which could result in a significant amount of stress and inevitably cause a lot of road accidents.
There is also the significant problem of driver shortages that are currently bogging the industry down and the shortage is expected to grow. With the demand for goods rising, the change in the pay model is definitely required to attract new talent and retain current talent.
According to the American Trucking Association, 96,000 new drivers would be needed every year for the next ten years to meet anticipated demands, underscoring the immediate need to review everything concerning truckers, especially their pay models.
A truck moves goods from one place to another and the firms to whom those goods belong require that these journeys be as cheap as possible and revamping the pay model to an hourly wage mode would make those journeys a lot costlier than they are currently.
A firm is only interested in keeping the cost of its goods low and an increase in driver’s wages would make those prices creep upwards and they would ultimately be passed down to the consumer which would make overall sales go down.
Secondly, the competition to secure a time advantage is also there from firms who want their goods to be moved as quickly as possible, an end goal which would be more difficult to meet if the pay model of per mile was driven is changed. Per hour wages would mean that truckers won’t “Hurry” and no rushes mean that goods would reach the consumers a lot slower than they do currently.
However, some signs are quite promising from the industry because the last comprehensive report filed by the American Trucking Association showed that around 77% of trucking companies now have more than one pay model for their truckers, but still more needs to be done to change the pay model to suit the grueling nature of this profession and make sure that problem of the driver shortage doesn’t reach catastrophic proportions in upcoming years.