The trucking industry is getting a holiday bonus from the U.S. Congress.
The federal spending bill just passed for 2015 includes a provision that will undo many of the trucking safety rule changes the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented last year.
The current trucking safety rules—mandating a 30-minute break every 8 hours, and 2 overnight breaks between work-weeks— are hurting drivers, the carrier representatives claim. They successfully argued for the new rule, which removes overnight restrictions from the 36-hour overnight breaks.
In truth, what hurts truck drivers is the piecework pay-per-mile system.
The pay-per-mile system means that truckers aren’t paid for the hours they spend loading, re-fueling, or taking mandatory breaks.
If trucking carriers were truly concerned about trucker safety and quality of life, they would pay drivers by the hour.
Smart-Trucking.com, a website run by truck drivers, calculated driver’s costs and time. They found that many drivers are making less than $4.00/hour.
Big trucking companies say that their revenue growth was slowed in 2013 because of the slow implementation of the new FMCSA regulations.
In reality, they’re making more money than ever.
The average net profit margin was about 6 percent for last year. That’s a big increase from 3-4 percent range the previous three years.
Trucking companies could be paying drivers more: they choose not to do so.
Carriers have more interest in their bottom line than in public safety.
They have likely calculated that it’s less expensive to manage turnover and pay per mile than it is for them to pay experienced drivers by the hour. It’s a risk calculation, similar to those used by insurance companies.
Based on those profit margins, it must be working for them.
If a trucking safety rule is hurting drivers, it’s because carriers are defraying their own costs on the backs of truckers.
And the government is allowing the trucking industry to make more money, pay drivers less, and make our roads more dangerous.
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