The vast majority of truck drivers in the United States are paid by the mile. While this model has been the norm in the trucking industry for years, many safety advocates wonder if it contributes to accidents by incentivizing truck drivers to stay on the road as long as possible. This can lead to driver fatigue, which is estimated to be a factor in nearly 40% of all truck accidents.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the agency responsible for regulating the trucking industry, is now planning on conducting a study to determine whether the pay-per-mile model encourages truck drivers to break hours-of-service regulations or practice unsafe driving habits. Depending on the results of the study, the agency may choose to regulate how drivers are paid.
Overview of the Study
The FMCSA announced its plan to submit a request to perform the study to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. After submitting the plan, there will be a period open to safety advocates, the trucking industry and the general public to comment on the proposed study prior to it being conducted.
The study will focus on three main payment methods:
- Hourly wages
The agency said in its plans that it intends to use an online questionnaire to survey management at over 2,000 trucking companies across the country. However, it does not plan on surveying truck drivers as a part of the study.
Australia Doing Its Own Investigation Into Truck Driver Pay
The FMCSA is not the only regulatory agency looking into the effects of the pay-per-mile model on highway safety. In 2012, its Australian counterpart, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT), began its own investigation into the matter. Their investigations have already found a link between late payments to owner-operators and driver fatigue and overall safety. As a result, the RSRT issued a federal order requiring payments to be made within 30 days. The RSRT may continue to issue new orders regarding trucker pay as the investigation continues.