Low Pay for Truck Drivers a Hazard

low-paid-truck-driversCan a low income be dangerous? Statistics show that around the world about half the population earn less than $2 a day. Obviously that impacts on a person’s quality of life, and maybe access to life necessities, and is linked to health problems, and even a shortened life expectancy.

But you might be thinking that doesn’t happen in America. Think again.

Truck drivers are on some of the lowest wages in the country and with the current economic climate and rising costs for carriers that doesn’t look likely to change any time soon. Read any truckers forum and you’ll come across dozens of disgruntled drivers, either stuck in low-paying positions or so desperate for work they’ll take whatever they can get.

This raises a few questions worth asking:

  • Why is truck driving a largely low paid job?
  • Should truck drivers be paid more?
  • What dangers are associated with poorly paid truck drivers?

We’ll discuss these questions briefly and look at some ways to make the job safer and more productive.

Truck Driving – Low Paid?

First of all we will make it known that were not saying truck drivers are poor. In fact, many are quite wealthy and earn a significant salary. Some truck drivers earn around $100,000 a year, particularly in demanding or hazardous driving jobs.

But when you look at the hours they work, sometimes it paints a different picture. Many drivers are working more than 10 hours a day and that can translate to a low hourly rate.

In some areas, there is a lot of competition for jobs, pushing wages even lower.

Should Truck Drivers Be Paid More?

It’s impossible to answer a question like this simply because there is such a lot of variety in driving jobs. Truck drivers could be doing anything, from a fairly ordinary ‘around town’ delivery van job to transporting HAZMAT interstate, a job that has a lot more responsibility and risk attached to it.

We also live in what Milton Friedman lauds as the ‘great American free market’, where prices, and wages, are often set by the invisible hand of market forces, namely supply and demand. This means truck driving wages will always be set depending on how in demand their specific skills and talents are, so if you are a driver it pays to upgrade your skills and keep your CDL current.

The Dangers of Low Pay

The rising cost of living has meant that many workers are desperately trying to keep the head above water by earning as much as they can. For truck drivers on low pay, this can be harmful to their health.

A low paid truck driver will always be tempted to work as many hours as they possibly can, to maximize their earnings. Strict policing of the DOT’s regulations on HOS has limited the practice of drivers working all hours but it still happens, and there are dangers not just to the driver from not getting sufficient sleep and being separated from family, but also to other road users, running the risk of colliding with a heavily-fatigued truck driver.

Effective Worker Scheduling Can Help

There’s an old saying ‘work smarter, not harder’. It could well apply to carriers and drivers who see working longer the only answer to a difficult economy. But online driver scheduling software can help fleets in several ways:

  • Identify hidden expenses and make the route more profitable
  • Accurately forecast costs of taking on a new client for better decision making
  • Combine nearby jobs easily to save unnecessary miles
  • Future workload balancing to smooth out the lows and peaks that can put pressure on drivers to be overworked

Through route optimization, job grouping and last-mile routing, both carriers and fleet drivers can accomplish the same number of jobs, but in much less time.

Truck drivers do have an important job and a heavy responsibility, one worth every cent they get paid. By using dispatch and scheduling software like Telogis Route, a more profitable fleet can be built and hopefully that will mean greater rewards for drivers.

  • peter ross

    Hgv drivers arround the world perform a vital role in the supply and demand logistics market.
    In the USA and the E U currently including Britain were supposed to have laws regulating and enforcing limits.
    Unfortunately in the U K the rules are not enforced so transport operators allow HGV drivers to work up to 80 hours in 6 days.
    Fatigue is s killer.
    Two recent litigants are
    Ross v Eddie Stobart
    URTU v DFT