On Being a Truck Driver: How Should You Be Compensated?

Truck driver talking on the phone while holding a tablet with his truck behind him

In 2016, three truck drivers sued their employer for not paying them for all the hours they’ve spent on the road. This class-action lawsuit was joined by 3,000 others, who are also claiming that the said practice of not paying truck drivers violates the Fair Labor Standards Act. The court has denied the employer’s motions to dismiss the three drivers’ claims.

The court decided that a truck driver’s working hours include the time they spend waiting inside the truck’s sleeper berth, even if the drivers had logged that time as “off-duty.” That said, what’s the right way of compensating truck drivers?

An experienced truck labor lawyer can provide legal assistance for truck drivers who are facing compensation issues, including those for work-related injuries. Here’s how truck drivers should be paid, and the factors that determine their income:

Per Mile, Not Per Hour

Truck drivers are usually paid for every mile they travel and not per hour. The amount is influenced by their length of experience, the location where they drive, and their employer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate paid by most trucking companies to their drivers range from $0.27 to $0.40 per mile, but some companies offer higher rates due to the rising demand for Class A licensed truck drivers.

Truck drivers travel between 2,000 to 3,000 miles weekly on average. With pay per mile, truck drivers may be able to make more than drivers who are paid hourly. An odometer helps truck drivers track the rates they should expect.

Factors That Determine Salary

Your salary will first and foremost depend on who your employer is. Some drivers can earn as high as $87,204 per year, which is significantly higher than the average yearly income of truck drivers of only $43,680, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Companies with personal fleets are found to pay their drivers higher compared to companies dedicated solely to trucking.

The length of experience is also an important factor. The longer you remain as a truck driver, the higher your chances of earning a larger income. The risks involved in the job also influence your pay. For example, transporting hazardous materials. Note, however, that only experienced drivers are accepted for risky truck driving jobs.

Bonuses

Trucking companies can offer the following bonuses to CDL-trained drivers:

  • Monthly Mileage – This can be earned by driving longer distances.
  • Sign-on bonus – This is given by some trucking companies who are competing for hiring drivers. This bonus can be paid in a lump sum or in instalments.
  • Fuel Efficiency – Some trucking companies award their drivers who make efforts to reduce fuel costs.
  • Safety Pay – If you’ve proven to your employer that you drive safely at all times, you may receive this bonus.
  • Layover Pay – Some trucking companies offer to compensate their drivers for time lost due to unanticipated inconveniences.
  • Clean DOT inspections – Drivers may get paid this bonus after passing the inspection from the Clean Department of Transportation.

Benefits

Truck drivers are entitled to paid vacation leaves, paid sick leaves, medical and dental insurance, ride-along policy (they can bring a family member or pet along), life insurance, job security, and a 401k retirement plan.

You can also count travel opportunity as a benefit. Though trucking companies only cover certain areas of the country, it’s still an opportunity to travel. You’re not stuck in an office five days a week, but rather constantly exposed to open roads and beautiful scenery.

Truck drivers also need not to worry about commuting costs. Employers cover fuel expenses, so you can save a considerable amount of money. Truck driving is also a job that requires no supervision. Once you’re on the road, you can do whatever you like, provided you complete all your tasks on that day.

If you’re a truck driver who doesn’t get paid some of these compensations that you’re entitled to, talk to your employer and ask for legal assistance if no action has been done.