Why trucking pay structures can make the roads more dangerous

Truck drivers can be paid in various ways, and methods of payment often depends on the specific job, company policies and the type of trucking that a driver is involved in.

For instance, some truck drivers are paid a fixed salary, typically if they work for specific companies on regular routes or as part of a dedicated team. For others, hourly pay is common, especially for local or regional truck drivers who work shorter routes or have frequent stops and deliveries. Some truck drivers are paid per load or per delivery. This method of payment may vary depending on the size or weight of the cargo.

But most long-haul truck drivers are paid based on the number of miles they drive. The rate per mile can vary widely based on company policy, the type of cargo – hazardous materials may pay more, for instance – and other factors. This pay structure often includes bonuses or incentives for covering more miles within a set period.

How much do truckers earn?

The earnings of truck drivers who are paid per mile can vary significantly based on several factors, including the type of trucking they are involved in (long-haul, regional, local), the company they work for, their level of experience and the current demand for drivers.

Some truck drivers typically earn a range of around $0.40 to $0.65 per mile, on average. This means that for a truck driver covering 2,500 to 3,000 miles in a week  – a common range for many long-haul drivers – their gross income before expenses would be approximately $1,000 to $1,800 per week. However, it’s crucial to note that these figures can fluctuate based on various factors, such as shifts in the industry, market demand and economic conditions.

Why is this dangerous?

This pay system works in that it keeps drivers productive and companies only have to pay for that productivity. But the risk is that truck drivers also know they aren’t getting paid when they aren’t moving. Will a driver feel rushed and take risks after getting stuck in traffic, attempting to make up time? Will a driver who wants to earn more that day consider breaking the speed limit so they can cover more miles? It isn’t hard to see that these financial pressures can sometimes cause serious motor vehicle accidents.