An old saying says, "When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys."
This article concerns a professional truck driver's per-mile wage rate from 1964 to 2023 compared to the wage rate of a licensed truck mechanic. Drivers are paid by the mile, so to convert it to a per-hour rate, I will assume the truck's average speed will be 35 miles per hour, times the per-mile rate, which will result in a per-hour rate.
In 1964 when I was driving, the rate was 8.4 cents per mile. This would be the above-average rate, and some were around 9 cents. This was for driving a tandem truck with a 40- or 45-foot trailer with a gross weight of 74,000 lbs. The trailers were limited to 8 feet wide. So 8.4 cents times 35 gives me an hourly rate of $2.94. A mechanic at that time was getting $2.00 to $2.15 per hour. The truck driver was getting about 30 % more than the mechanic. We were both professionals, and our wages reflected it.
In 1978, 4 years later, my mileage rate was 32 cents per mile (if I pulled a "B" train, I got an additional 4 cents). This was for driving a tandem truck with a 45 or 48-foot tandem trailer, 8.5 feet wide with a G.V.W. of 84,000 lbs. So 32 cents times 35 gives me an hourly rate of $12.20 per hour. A mechanic at the time would be earning $9.00 to $11.00 per hour. He's getting a little closer to the truck driver wage.
Then in the late 1980s, the government deregulated the transport industry (this includes air transport and taxis). As a result, a lot of people got into the act of getting customers and running their own trucking company. The easiest and quickest way to get operating and obtaining customers is to "cut the rates." When I say "cut rates," I include cutting their expenses by cutting back on maintenance to vehicles and wages to drivers.
Now let's jump ahead to 2023. In talking to people, it seems the top wage rate is now 70 cents per mile. Some say "up to" 70 cents per mile. What does "up to" imply? Do I have to pull nine axles down the road to get the "up to" rate? Let's assume it is for a tandem truck with a tandem trailer 48 or 53 feet and 8.5 feet wide with a G.V.W. of 39,500 KGS or (86,900 lbs.) so 70 cents times 35 gives me an hourly rate of $24.50 per hour. The hourly rate for the mechanic repairing trucks ranges from $35.00 to $45.00 per hour based on his qualifications. Let us take an average of $40.00 per hour. Now the mechanic is paid $15.00 more per hour than the truck driver!! Now the truck driver is earning $8.00 an hour over the minimum wage in B.C., which is $16.50 per hour.
Some companies pay 55 cents per mile, which comes to $19.25 per hour. That is a whopping $2.75 over the minimum wage. Maybe in the next five years, we can decrease the driver's wage to the minimum wage. Flipping burgers is starting to look like a good job. The truck driver is responsible for $200,000 to $300,000 of equipment under his command plus the value of the freight – a big difference for $2.75!!
No wonder there is a shortage of drivers, and the calibre of drivers has gone down. It used to be that you would start working for a trucking company and work towards being a "line driver" and get paid by the miles because that is where the big bucks were. You were proud to be a "line driver," and the other motorists on the road respected you – not anymore. You put effort into your job and had pride in being a truck driver.
How do we rectify the shortage and calibre of truck drivers? It's so easy and simple – pay them $100.00 per hour, and you will have a lineup at your door, and you can pick the best of the best. In other words, paying a half-decent wage is the answer.
Read the first sentence of this article again.
P.S. We are now in the metric system – why are we paying drivers by the mile? Instead of 70 cents per mile, pay 43 cents per K.M. Grocery stores advertise products by the pound - $6.00, why not $13.00 per K.G. The old system looks better, but it doesn't fool me.
P.P.S. The mechanic gets paid for 2 - 15 min. coffee breaks every 8 hours. Does the truck driver who gets paid by the mile get a paid coffee break? I never have.