In 1999, when Pro-Trucker Magazine was first published, truckers' main concerns were driver pay, shortage of drivers, poor driver training, employee/independent contractor classification, hours of service, safe, adequate rest stops, and adequate parking in industrial areas.
Flash forward to 2023, and today, truckers' main concerns are driver pay, shortage of drivers, poor driver training, employee/independent contractor classification, hours of service, safe, adequate rest stops, and adequate parking in industrial areas.
What has changed? Traffic and congestion have increased exponentially, leading to an increase in the number of traffic accidents and deaths. Our roads and bridges have deteriorated substantially, and many of the rest stops that were once open to trucks are now for cars only. Road closures due to accidents unexplainably take twice as long to clear today. And on top of that, fuel costs have doubled, and wages have not improved. So yes, things have changed – they have gotten worse.
Fly-by-night companies that undercut rates on the backs of inexperienced drivers bring rates down for everyone. Unreasonable delivery times, low pay-by-load and pay-by-the-mile rates encourage new drivers to take chances to make ends meet. These same companies often put new drivers on the road long before they should be cut loose. There are many stories of shippers not renewing contracts and going to some of these companies only to come back later when they realize how the quality of service and inexperience reflects on them as a supplier.
What can be done? Most European countries have gone to pay by the hour. There are several advantages:
1. Hourly pay ensures that truck drivers are fairly compensated for their time by considering the hours worked, including time spent waiting at loading docks, traffic congestion, and other delays beyond the driver's control.
2. Improved safety: Truck drivers are less likely to speed or drive recklessly to increase their pay when they are paid by the hour. With a set hourly rate, drivers have less pressure to work excessively long hours to earn more money.
3. Retention and recruitment: Hourly pay provides stability and a predictable income. It would make the trucking profession more attractive to potential drivers and increase retention rates, which is particularly important in addressing the driver shortage issue.
4. By paying truck drivers by the hour, there is an incentive for companies to ensure better working conditions, such as reduced waiting times at loading docks and improved scheduling practices.
5. Level the playing field. Companies can still undercut, but it comes off their bottom line, not the driver's.