Trucking Salaries and Safety Varies Between States

The TruckersReport Ultimate Industry Guide released the figures for average trucking salaries for each state. The lowest salary nationwide was $40,000 and the average was just over $51,000. The 5 states with the highest salary for truckers were:

Mississippi: $68,000

Wyoming: $61,000

New York: $60,000

Washington: $59,000

Massachusetts: $59,000

Trucker Salary vs. Cost of Living

Interestingly, truckers’ salaries do not correspond with their states’ cost of living. Of the five states with the highest cost of living – Hawaii, Connecticut, Alaska, New Jersey and New York – truckers’ salaries were $8,000-28,000 lower than the highest paid drivers in the U.S. In Alaska and Hawaii, two of the states with the highest cost of living, truck drivers on average are paid less than all truckers in the nation. This means drivers in many states, particularly Alaska and Hawaii, may be earning a wage that cannot support their family. Unlike many employees in the United States, truck drivers are legally unable to work more hours or pick up additional shifts to raise their earning capacity.

How Truckers’ Pay is Calculated

Most truckers are paid by the mile but regulated by the hour. What this means is that truck drivers earn more money for every mile they cover, yet they are limited in how long they can drive. If something like traffic, an accident or weather conditions forces a truck to stop or slow down, the truck driver’s wage earning also stops or slows. The longer it takes a truck driver to transport a load, the less per hour he/she earns and the fewer trips he/she can take.

The amount of time a truck driver can spend on the road is limited by Hours of Service regulations. A driver must pull over and rest once he/she has reached a maximum number of consecutive driving hours. Once the number of allowable hours for the week has been reached, the driver cannot drive any more, and thus his/her earning abilities are capped. It can be a great source of frustration to drivers.

Logbooks or Comic Books?

All of the hours a trucker has driven are recorded in a handwritten log, unless the trucking company has installed an electronic on-board recording device that automatically records how long a truck has been operated. Handwritten logbook forgery occurs more commonly in the trucking industry than many would believe. Many truck drivers cannot resist the temptation to drive for longer than hours of service allow and record a shorter number of hours in their logbooks. Falsifying driving hours is such a common practice that logbooks are sometimes jokingly referred to as comic books.

Fatigue and Accidents

However, accidents involving commercial trucks are no laughing matter. Fatigue contributes to many accidents in the United States, and driving for too many hours tires even professional drivers. Trucking companies need to take the cost of living into consideration when determining their drivers’ salaries. If they don’t, it is likely that some of the drivers will forge their logbooks, which, when discovered by authorities either in a routine check or after a crash, can result in major fines for the company. Higher wages means there is less of a need for drivers to push the limits of the hours of service, and that results in safer roadways for all vehicles.

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