FMCSA to look into hourly pay and payment for detention time in new study

The transportation industry is experiencing a monumental labor shortage. The industry is facing a shortage of 80,000 truck drivers, up 30% since the start of the pandemic, according to a recent study from the American Trucking Associations. At the same time, consumer demand is surging and expectations surrounding freight turnaround times are less forgiving than ever before. Thanks to these persistent industry headwinds, the debate surrounding how to pay drivers – by the mile or by the hour – is heating up, and Congress is taking notice. 

One oft-cited problem with the tried-and-true per-mile method is that drivers do not get paid for detention time. When drivers are stuck at loading docks, they are not earning money because they are not moving. They are, however, still working. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General released a study that found detention time alone can reduce a driver’s income by over 3% each year. 

In the face of any type of driver pay reform, carriers may have to make sure drivers are making adequate money on a per-hour basis. With the current per-mile structure, it is possible for drivers to make under minimum wage on a per-hour basis thanks to things like long detention times. This may not be allowed to happen for much longer.

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