Monkeys and Peanuts

Frank Milne: Retired Driver, Lease operator and company owner
Posted By Frank Milne: Retired Driver, Lease operator and company owner On 2023-07-07 19:49:53

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.

Previous Blogs

Bella Coola by Glen Mallard

Hole in One by Dave Madill

On The Wrong Road by John Maywood

Wildlife by Colin Black

On the Road Again by Myrna Chartrand...

Cooking Class by Scott Casey

Know Your Limits by Ed Murdoch...

2020 Vision by Greg Evasiuk...


With 35 years of combined publishing experience, you will see this unique and much improved trucking magazine called Pro Trucker Driver's Choice Magazine

Getting Started

Lawful Torture

Little Star

It's Now Or Never

Winter Blues


The First Time

Let's Block the Road!

In the Face of History

Human Trafficing

Nature’s Child

Distracted Driving


The Virus

"What do you look forward to?"

“Fuel Tanks”

You want me to go where?

From Zero to Hero to Zero

ELD’s and Speed Limiters – Are They Really Safe?

The Dream (July 2005)

The Lonesome Camaraderie of the Transportation Industry

Strange Times

Lockdown Toilets

Life goes on

The Czech Invasion.

A Steep Learning Curve

Fools Casting Calls

We Are All In This Together

How to get Time Off

A New Year

Added Benefits of Trucking

An ill Wind

Loving the Road

Insecure Loads


All Things Shiny and New


The Good Ol’ Days

Cold Trip


A Moment’s Distraction

Have or Have not

Music and Me

Travels With Ringo

Distracted Driver


ELDs, Roads and Covid

Female of The Species

The Switch

Flood of 60

Crimes Against Humanity

Training Hours

In the Truck’s Clutches

Attitude & Altitude

Wide Open Spaces (and closed in places)

Trucking is a Trade

A night to remember

Loading Heavy Equipment


Truck Routes

Then and Now

Attitude & Altitude

A Girl Just Wants to Have Fun…

The Weekend!


How I Write

In The Beginning Part 3

Tires and Unions

Stay Safe

My Rant…


I learned a New Trick

It ain’t the years - it’s the miles.

It’s Time, Gentlemen, Time


The Brain

Blind Man's Buff

Editor's Note

The Flitting


What I Did This Summer



Show Ready


Big Rig Weekends

Love and Trucking

Books and Covers

Like a Boss

It's a Wonderful World

Common Sense By Glen “The duck” Millard

Dad meets a “Bear.”

All Experience isn’t Good Experience…

The Weather Outside is Frightful…

Common Sense

Bad Breaks and Good Luck

Driving Through My Memories for January/February 2023


Time to Reset!

Halcyon Days of Trucking

All Experience…

The Piggy Bus Encounter

Sports and Life Lessons

Winter Storms

Humboldt Tragedy_MELT program

Driving Through My Memories

On The Road Again

Wait Over Weight

I Write

Elliot Lake

The Good (?) Old Trucks

Canadian and Proud of it

Six Cans for Buffalo Joe

Monkeys and Peanuts

Safety First

30? 60? 90? Late Pay

Nothing New


Has anything changed?

Holidays - Then Back To The Grind.

Old Trucker Troubles

Loose Moose

Some of the Trucks I've Seen

The Last Ride

Cold Load Home

Make it a Holiday

Winter Wonderland Trucking

Thinning the Herd

Just Be There…

And to All, a Good Night!

Dumb and Dumber

Helping Out in a Clutch

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

Driver Retention Matters_ New Volvo VNL


Tires and Trouble

Idle time

Dinner on the Road

Load Security

Tourist Trucking

The Last Ride