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How Trucker Pay Practices Affect Driver Safety

The way some truck drivers are compensated may be creating powerful incentives to engage in risky behavior. Federal regulations require that drivers obey certain hours-of-service restrictions designed to get them more rest. Drowsy driving accidents are a significant problem among commercial drivers and the regulations are designed to combat the problem. Unfortunately, there are ways around the hours-of-service restrictions if a driver is willing to take the risk. The way drivers are paid is enough to convince many to take the unsafe route.

Former head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Anne Ferro supports a measure that would require trucking companies to pay drivers for the time they spend waiting for the trucks to be loaded or unloaded. The measure has been put forward by the Obama administration as one way to encourage drivers to obey hours-of-service rules. For many drivers, wages are entirely dependent on the number of miles driven. Wait time, like rest time, is money lost for these drivers.

The FMCSA has recently begun a study into the unintended consequences of the way truck drivers are compensated. The study will look at various methods of compensation and see how they impact drivers. The study breaks down the data further into long-haul versus short-haul trucking and large versus small carrier trucking. It will analyze whether certain methods of driver compensation are safer than others.

While many forms of traffic fatality have declined in recent years, truck accident deaths have continued to rise. This study is one of several designed to help keep the roads safe for commercial vehicles and those who share the road with them.

Source: Truckinginfo, "FMCSA Will Study Driver Pay Impact on Safety," by Oliver Patton, 29 August 2014 

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