Paying truck drivers based on miles logged should be continued, but the system must be made more practical.
The method of compensation needs to be adjusted to account for the time that truckers are working when their vehicles aren’t on the road, according to a panel of industry experts at the annual American Trucking Associations (ATA) Management Conference and Exhibition in Orlando.
The panel’s discussion focused on considerations on driver pay, along with issues regarding recruiting and retention, the impact of the recent Hours of Service (HOS) changes, and even driver health and wellness initiatives during the driver-focused session.
The ATA’s chief economist, Bob Costello, set the foundation for the conversation by showcasing results of a recent survey on truck industry trends. Costello said at the conference that fleets are adjusting to continued tightness in the driver market by increasing pay and hiring newer drivers.
“While the driver shortage is generally confined to only certain segments of the trucking industry, it is having real impacts on how fleets recruit and retain their drivers,” Costello said.
Long-haul truckload carriers continue to be the most affected by driver churn, as turnover rates were running at 99 percent during the first half of 2013, according to CCJ.
Because of this, over 90 percent of those fleets have increased or will increase driver wages this year. The survey also discovered that large truckload carriers have varied opinions on whether to take on an across-the-board pay raise for drivers or to use an incentive-based plan.
One issue that is plaguing the industry is that modern truck drivers simply have a greatly reduced average length-of-haul, along with concentrated productivity. Prior to the recession, long-haul trucks drove approximately 10,000 miles per month. That’s down to about 8,100 miles today, Costello said.
However, switching a different form of compensation – like hourly pay rates – would not be feasible in the current system.
In the end, some members of the panel said there was still a ways to go before finding a solution, and issues such as driver pay and retention rates cannot be settled until the whole industry adopts electronic logs, which will provide a central, consistent measurement to guide procedure.