On average, truckers work 50% more than other U.S. workers, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. With the roadways and highways as their workplace, this puts themselves and other motorists, at greater risk of crashing.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration over 3,830 roadway users–drivers, bicyclists, and truckers–died in heavy vehicle crashes in 2015.
2 in 5 truckers report they work over the recommended 60-hour work week, and 1 in 5 report working over 70+ hours. Therefore, it’s no wonder that these numbers are expected to rise.
A big factor in tracking the hours a driver spends on the road is the lack of pay for the time that truckers are waiting “off-duty”.
The time spent loading and unloading often goes unpaid, allowing truckers to extend their work week and drive more. Because this “off-duty” time is unpaid, cargo owners lack motivation to work quickly. As a result, they end up wasting over $1 billion dollars that would otherwise land in truckers’ pockets.
“There’s a lot of wasted time in trucking.”
“The industry could be a lot more efficient,” trucker Donald Rich told The Washington Post. “You sit outside a business for 6-8 hours waiting for someone to unload your truck. Businesses don’t care, but you lose hundreds or thousands of dollars of potential pay because you have to just wait.”
A possible solution here is a major increase in wages on both ends of the loading process. If drivers were compensated for their off-duty time, it would cost the industry billions. However, it might be more cost effective to simply cut down on the waiting time. If cargo workers were incentivized to move more quickly, perhaps that down time would decrease.
Another option is to both incentivize those responsible for loading and unloading cargo, as well as pay, even a half-wage, to truckers for off-duty time. This might offset the need for drivers to work regular overtime hours, and allow for a better work-life balance at home.
So, when will these wage increases take place?
Soon, hopefully. With the ever increasing demand for drivers nation wide, some companies are offering pay rates the likes of which have never been seen. For some companies, this already includes off-duty pay. As both benefits and wages increase, more and more drivers are beginning to notice the keen position they’ve been put in.
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