Recently, a change was made to the overtime law for employees in the USA. Apparently, it’s supposed to help more workers–including some salaried ones–to earn a bit extra when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Of course, how beneficial it will be remains to be seen.
The new law likely won’t affect many truck drivers, though. The majority of them are paid by the mile rather than the hour or salaried. This puts them in the unfortunately large group of American employees with sometimes seriously unpredictable paychecks.
Each industry has unique issues affecting their employee paychecks, of course. For truck drivers the main objectives are to cover miles and make money. To do this they need decent weather, open roads, a functioning truck, available freight and a well rested driver. Unfortunately, many of these are out of the driver’s control.
Obviously, they can’t keep snow, ice, floods and high winds away. Construction and rush hour can sometimes be worked around with trip planning, but they can be unpredictable, especially when accidents are figured in.
As anyone with a vehicle knows, no matter how well you stick with preventive maintenance, stuff breaks. Even the preventive work adds up to time off the road and not all companies pay the driver for that time.
Freight availability varies by season and consumer appetite. Along with the amount of freight available, the location of the freight also affects the driver. If there’s none where the driver is, the company has to pay for fuel to get him where there is some. And all too often, the shippers and receivers delay the driver with hours of waiting to be loaded or unloaded.
Being rested is certainly within the driver’s control most of the time. When the shipper unexpectedly takes 6 hours to load and the driver who normally drives during the day has to drive over night to deliver on time while obeying federal hours of service regulations, it can mess with the driver’s sleep schedule and require a shot of caffeine.
When all these things work together well, a driver will work 60-70 hours a week and earn a decent paycheck, but no overtime. When something goes wrong, he/she may get paid next to nothing and be stuck far from home to boot. Add in our healthcare laws and overpriced insurance and one can see why so many drivers leave the profession within a year or two.
I hope the new overtime law helps a lot of people earn a better living, but I fear it may continue the tendency toward the creation of more part time positions. Regardless, it isn’t likely to help any truckers.
Until next time, friends, drive safely out there 🙂