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ATA To Survey Driver Pay

November 12, 1999

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The American Trucking Assns. is soliciting fleet participation in a survey of driver pay.
The Driver Compensation Study 2000 will begin surveying regional and national less-than-truckload and truckload carriers the end of December.

The study, designed in conjunction with the Truckload Carriers Assn., was last done in 1997. Around 350 general freight and specialized carriers participated.
Survey figures are broken out by carrier size, including company employment, number of power units operated and gross annual revenue, along with the type of carrier (e.g. public vs. privately held and union vs. non-union workforce) where appropriate.Types of tonnage by LTL and truckload as well as by type of carrier (general freight, refrigerated, tank truck and heavy specialized) are also noted.
This will allows fleet executives to benchmark statistics relevant to their own company’s operations regarding both driver retention and salary and benefits.
Highlights from the 1997 survey:
* Nearly half (48%) of the carriers required their solo drivers to have at least two years of over-the-road experience. Dump carriers were the most demanding, with all of the respondents requiring two or more years of experience. Carriers shifted from a 1995 study, with a larger percentage requiring less than one year experience of their new drivers.
* Most carriers (59%) required some type of formal training beyond a commercial driver’s license for entry level drivers; one half provide advanced on-the-job training for new drivers (those which have been trained but have no over-the-road experience).
* Driver turnover averaged right around 30%. Tank truck carriers demonstrated the lowest turnover, while refrigerated carriers had the highest.
* The most popular bonus offered to company drivers was a safety bonus (60%), followed by pickup/stop pay (52%) and a referral bonus (47%).
* Of those that offered bonuses, most paid $150 or less per month in bonus compensation. Tank truck and heavy specialized carriers typically had smaller bonus amounts; refrigerated carriers gave the largest bonuses, with 37% giving monthly bonuses of $250 or more.
* Over one-third of the carriers offered drivers a meal and incidental expense (M&IE) per diem, while very few reimbursed drivers for their actual expenditures on meals. Carriers that offered a M&IE per diem to their employee drivers have shifted since a 1995 study from paying on a cents per mile basis to paying a flat daily rate.
* Over half the carriers (63%) paid their employee drivers in cents per mile rather than a percentage of revenue. The method of payments was largely dependent on carriers size, with a higher number of smaller carriers paying as a percentage of revenue and larger carriers tending to pay on a cents per mile basis.
* The average time it took for an inexperienced solo driver to reach the top of the pay scale was 4.2 years.
* The average starting pay in cents per mile for all carriers in 1997 was 26.2¢ per mile, while the average highest pay was 31.4¢ per mile.
* Nationwide truckload carriers started drivers with the lowest pay in cents per mile: however, they showed the highest percentage change between lowest pay and highest pay at 21%. Regional less-than-truckload carriers started drivers at the highest pay in cents per mile, with an average difference between lowest pay and highest pay of 15%.
* The average starting pay as a percent of revenue for all carriers in 1997 was 24.8% This was a drop from the 1995 study, when starting pay averaged 24.1% and the highest pay averaged 26.1%.
* Wages in cents per mile per team were 4¢ to 5¢ per mile higher than solo driver pay. Team average starting pay was 30.4¢ per mile vs. 26.2¢ per mile for solo drivers.
* The average annual driver salary (both solo and team drivers) for all responding carriers was $35,456 per year, a 5.6% increase over 1995.
* Heavy specialized carriers averaged approximately $2,000 less per drivers and dump trucking averaged almost $5,000 below the driver average for all responding carriers. All carrier types other than general freight showed decreases in drivers wages from 1995; general fright showed a 7.3% increase over 1995 wages.
* Carriers with 1,000 or more employees paid an average anual salary that was approximately 24% higher than those carriers with less than 25 employees. This large wage gap was primarily attibutable to the regional carriers, both LTL and TL.
* Average starting pay for regional carriers ranged from a high of 26.8¢ per mile for drivers going in and out of Canada to the lowest of 25.6¢ for drivers in the Northwestern and Western regions.
* Drivers running in and out of Canada received the highest average pay (32.4¢ per mile).
* Over two-thirds (68%) of the survey respondents used owner-operators. The majority of carriers used between one and 34 solo owner-operator units. Whether or not carriers utilized owner-operators depended on carrier size; the higher the carrier’s annual revenue, the more likely that carrier used owner-operators.
* The majority of carriers (67%) paid their owner-operators as a percent of revenue. The average payment was between 70% and 75%.
* The most popular bonuses offered to owner-operators were stop/pickup pay and referral bonuses. Nationwide truckload carriers were the most likely to offer bonuses to owner-operators.
* More than 50% of the participating cariers paid for or provided their owner-operators with cargo insurance, fuel tax reporting, permits and/or other cash advances.
Final results of ATA’s Driver Compensation Study 2000 will be released in the Spring. Participant ATA member companies will receive a copy of the 1997 survey, plus a summary of the results of the 2000 study. They will also be discounted 80% off the cover price for a copy of the full study.
Non-ATA members are also encouraged to participate and will receive substantial discounts on survey results for participation.
For information or to participate, contact Bob Costello, ATA chief economist, at (703) 838-1799; or email bcostell@trucking.org.


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