Truck drivers tend to be paid strictly based on production, and this is measured through miles driven. The more miles they can cover, the more they earn.
For instance, instead of getting something like $20 per hour, drivers average between 28 cents per mile and 40 cents per mile. At the 40 cents rate, it would take 50 miles in one hour to make $20. On the whole, this often means drivers earn from $560 to $1,200 in a week, driving from 2,000 to 3,000 miles in that time.
Why is it done this way and why is it a problem?
The pay is set up this way to give drivers an incentive to cover distance at a reasonable speed. A truck driver doesn’t have a supervisor with them, watching their every action. If they were paid hourly, they’d make that rate even when not getting closer to their destination. A rate based on miles means that the driver always wants to be as prompt as they can with every delivery.
This is a problem, though, because most workers have an inherent desire to maximize their own earnings. For a truck driver, the only way to do this is to cover more miles in each hour.
So, will a driver in a school zone be tempted to keep driving at 55 miles per hour, rather than slowing down to 25? Will a driver who is stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle decide to attempt a reckless pass to get ahead of them? Will truck drivers tailgate other drivers to get them to speed up, increasing the overall rate of traffic?
All of these actions could, in theory, help this hypothetical driver earn more money. But they also make the road far more dangerous than it would be otherwise. The last people who should be rushing, breaking the speed limit or driving aggressively are those at the wheel of 80,000-pound vehicles.
Have you been injured?
This isn’t to say that all truck drivers are dangerous, but it’s important to recognize the risks inherent in the system. If you have been injured in an accident that a truck driver caused, you also need to know what legal options you have to seek compensation.