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Court Ruling: Truck Drivers Must Be Paid for All Hours on Duty

A recent U.S. District Court judge’s ruling weighs in on a debate about equitable compensation for long-haul truckers. Advanced Training Systems pushes for total compensation to recruit and retain drivers.

(St. Petersburg, FL) January 2, 2018—In October, the U.S. District Court in the Western Division of Arkansas ruled that truck drivers should receive at least minimum wage for their work time. While drivers who are paid by the mile may continue to be paid in that fashion, their overall pay, according to the ruling, must meet the federal requirement for minimum wage.1 “Truck drivers,” says John Kearney, CEO, Advanced Training Systems LLC, “have historically had to deal with delays beyond their control that detract from their productive over-the-road hours.” Kearney, whose company is a leading designer and manufacturer of virtual simulators and driver training on them, adds, “If we push to attract drivers who will choose this as a profession, total compensation which depends on miles driven is the overall key to attracting and keeping drivers.”

And future drivers, Kearney notes, are urgently needed. According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), about 51,000 more drivers are needed than are available to meet demand from direct-to-consumer retailers like Amazon and Walmart. The driver shortage is already leading to delayed deliveries and higher prices, and the ATA predicts that the driver shortage will worsen in the coming years.2

A complicating factor in establishing truckers’ salaries is that most truck drivers are paid not by the hour but by the mile. The average driver is expected to travel between 2,000 and 3,000 miles per week; according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a majority of trucking companies pay between $0.28 and $0.40 per mile3 at 2016 rates. At the low end, on a 70-hour week, this would net out to $8.00 per hour. At the high end, it would yield $17 per hour—both above the federal minimum wage of $7.50 per hour. During the last two years average annual compensation has risen dramatically as a result of the shortage of drivers and the average annual compensation can often reach the level of $45,000 to over $50,000 according to Kearney.

Compensation problems arise when drivers are forced to spend excessive amounts of time sitting out bad weather or in detention, i.e. waiting at a dock for a shipper to finish loading and release the shipment. This waiting time, for which not all drivers are paid, counts against the maximum 10 hours per day that, by federal safety regulations, drivers are allowed to be on duty whether moving or not.4

Some industry observers see a partial solution in the recent mandate that truckers use an electronic logging device (EDT) to track their total hours of service, including detention time, rather than the paper logbooks that were heretofore employed.5 The existence of this electronic record, Kearney notes, has reduced a tendency on the part of shippers to understate the amount of detention time they require of their carriers.

“Truck driving is—and should be—a solid, well-paid occupation,” says Kearney. “Long-haul truckers are essential to commerce in this country and help support the nation’s economic well-being. Better control of detention and greater awareness of attracting people to this profession—and retaining them—should quickly make the issue of minimum-wage regulations irrelevant. As to payment methods, the best course is to pay drivers for miles traveled and also for waiting time.”

About Advanced Training Systems LLC:
Advanced Training Systems (ATS) is a high-tech simulator technology and engineering firm that has revolutionized the design and manufacture of advanced training systems to improve training and create safer drivers. ATS, the holder of multiple patents in high-tech training simulation, has as its mission to provide this cutting-edge adaptive training to all involved in the transportation industry at an affordable cost, resulting in safer drivers/operators. For more information, visit www.atstrainingsystems.com

  1. Kahaner, Larry, “Court: Drivers entitled to a minimum wage for time,” American Trucker, December 3, 2018.
  2. Long, Heather, “America has a massive truck driver shortage. Here’s why few want an $80,000 job,” Washington Post, May 28, 2018.
  3. “Truck Driving Per Mile Salary,” www.alltrucking.com, 2016.
  4. Boblett, Chad, “Detention Policies Need to Change in 2018,” DAT blogpost, January 29, 2018.
  5. “ELD Implementation,” U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, June 21, 2018.

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