Trucking companies have an obligation not only to deliver products safely and in a timely fashion for their clients, but also to keep the roads safe for everyone. Certain trucking company operational practices can have a profound impact on accident rates. For example, when truck companies hire experienced, qualified drivers and ensure that all drivers in a fleet have adequate training, the companies are taking steps to make the roads safer for everyone. Similarly, when truck companies take care to maintain their fleet of trucks, they are working to help prevent pedestrian accidents, car accidents, and bicycle accidents involving their trucks.
The way that truck companies pay their drivers can also have a significant impact on road safety. In some cases, experts note, truck companies offer truck drivers inadvertent encouragement to speed or reduce rest stops. For example, if a truck company pays a driver by the mile, the driver may feel a subtle pressure to speed or to drive when fatigued in order to make more miles in order to make more money.
As well, many truck drivers spend hours or days on the road. If they are being paid by the load or by the mile, and they have little to do but drive, they may be tempted to speed and to cut corners on rest stops in order to get the job done and in order to take home more income. Many trucking companies also only pay drivers for driving. Time spent loading or unloading the truck, time spent resting or idling, and time spent doing paperwork is all unpaid work, and this can push drivers to drive more and drive faster to make up for all those unpaid hours.
According to Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), truck drivers spend an average of 44 hours a week of unpaid labor near or in their trucks. This amount of time is equivalent to a full-time job, so when drivers are not paid for these driving-related tasks they may feel pressured to drive faster or longer to make up for those hours. Most truck drivers make an average of $38,000 – $50,000, even after spending hours of unpaid labor on the job. The career requires days away from home as well as long hours of work.
Some experts believe that trucking companies should change pay structures in order to reduce the risk of truck accidents. Instead of paying by the mile, these experts note, drivers should be paid by the hour or should be paid a flat fee for a specific number of deliveries completed in a month. This way, there is no incentive for drivers to speed or take controlled substances to stay up later in order to drive more. Some experts even think that trucking companies can pay drivers extra as an incentive to drive safely. For example, truck drivers who make deliveries on time without speeding and cutting on breaks could be rewarded financially.
Some experts also advocate for truck drivers, and claim that truck companies should be spending more money on truck technology and truck driver training to make truck driving a safer and fairer job. Making truck drivers safe, healthy, and well-trained makes everyone safer on the roads we all share with trucks.