The Effect of Higher Pay for Truckers and the Safety Programs

June 18, 2012

One of the most important issues in the trucking industry is safety. From roadside truck checks to patrolling the highway, the state patrol is always on the alert for any truck that may be having safety problems. The trucking companies continually have safety classes and ways of checking vehicles to make sure they are in tip-top condition.

As a result, many truckers go years without an accident. This was apparent recently by action of the Chevron Lubricants that makes advanced engine oils and other products under the Delco brand name. They have a Red Eye Radio Million Mile Club and recently honored eight drivers into their membership. This club, established in 1992 is well known in the trucking industry and formerly operated under the name of Midnight Trucking Radio.

The Red Eye Radio is known throughout the nation and is enjoyed by millions of truckers everywhere. The hosts, Gary McNamara and Eric Harley not only give weather forecasts but discuss issues that are of special concern to truckers. Thanks to these radio broadcasts, truckers are able to keep abreast of the things such as latest trucking legislation, tips, trucker news, and so forth.

The eight drivers inducted into this honored club have the outstanding record of booking one million miles without having a single accident. They work for CR England, United Parcel Service, Chambers Transportation, Shawnee Trucking, First Fleet, Churchill Transportation, Frito Lay, and the D&M Carriers. These honored drivers received a personalized Million Mile Club jacket, a membership card, and a special gift. Anyone with a million miles of accident free truck driving can apply on line for recognition.

There are many different areas of concern regarding making sure the truck and trucker is able to travel safely. This includes mandatory maintenance and records, Department of Transportation rules regarding rest periods, testing the health of the driver, state rules and regulations, and so forth. Many trucking companies have 'on-site' classes regarding safety, as well as newly organized 'on-the- road' places where safety materials and other things are dispensed.

An interesting study was published in 2006 entitled PAY INCENTIVES AND TRUCK DRIVER SAFETY: A CASE STUDY. This study was done by Daniel A. Rodriguez, University of North Carolina, Felipe Targa, University of Maryland, and Michael H. Belzer, Wayne State University. They studied the effect of higher truck driver pay as it relates to safety.

Their study involved a large over-the-road trucking firm who, in 1997, increased the wages of their truckers by 39.1%. They included factors such as the trucker's prior driving experience and his or her driving experience acquired on the job. They found that drivers, who were previously employed at a lower rate and were kept on with the pay increase, reduced the number of company crashes. The suggestion was made that while human characteristics of more experienced drivers were involved, the motivational and incentive factors (higher pay) also played a part in increasing safety records.

The idea of a connection between wage structure and crash incident came to the attention of the National Transportation Safety Board in 1990. Other studies have also been made which connect compensation, driver behavior, and safety. This has caught the attention of the trucking industry.

In conclusion, it has become a common agreement that higher pay will attract drivers that are more experienced. The study states that "…we expect that certain driver human capital characteristics will correlate with better driving outcomes such as greater productivity, on-time performance, customer relations and safety… higher driver pay should…influence the behavior of a firm's existing pool of drivers by providing incentives for more professional performance." Looking at safety records it seems that this is a valid study regarding the need for higher truckers pay.

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