Senate Bill Calls for Hourly Pay for Truck Drivers

July 13, 2015

By Deborah Lockridge

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Legislation introduced late Friday in the U.S. Senate calls for truck drivers to be paid by the hour and would increase minimum insurance levels, mandate collision avoidance systems and speed limiters, and study the effects on safety of truck drivers having to drive hours just to get to the start of their workday.

The Truck Safety Act (S. 1739) was introduced by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, which has jurisdiction over truck safety.

“Truck drivers work extremely long days to deliver the goods we depend on and keep our economy moving, but too often this comes at the expense of their safety and the safety of other drivers,” Booker said. “We can significantly reduce the number of accidents on our nation’s highways by harnessing new technologies, and better protect victims of truck accidents by raising insurance minimums for trucks that haven’t changed in over 30 years."


Truck Safety Act provisions include:

  • Minimum Insurance – Would up the minimum levels of insurance carriers must have from $750,000 to $1.5 million. The bill also would increase insurance levels to keep pace with inflation.
  • Collision Avoidance Systems – Would require a rulemaking for commercial motor vehicles to have crash avoidance systems, such as forward collision warning systems and lane departure warning systems.
  • Speed Limiting Devices – Would require the Secretary of Transportation to finalize regulations requiring commercial motor vehicles to have speed limiting devices to prevent speeding. The American Trucking Associations has been calling for such devices for some time, while the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes them.
  • Driver Compensation – Would require the Secretary of Transportation to mandate that employers compensate truck drivers for hours worked.
  • Excessive Commuting – Would require a study on the effects of excessive commuting. There are concerns that far too often, truck drivers commute several hours to and from their base of operation.

Many of these provisions appear to address the highly publicized crash last year that seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another passenger, in which a Walmart truck slammed into their vehicle from behind on the New Jersey Turnpike. The driver reportedly had been awake for more than 24 hours but was still within his legal driving hours as recorded on electronic logs.

Safety advocacy groups praised the bill. In a joint statement Friday addressing the different trucking bills in the Senate, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition, Parents Against Tired Truckers, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and the Consumer Federation of America said the bill "will move the bar to advance commercial motor vehicle safety.

"With total tonnage of truck freight shipments predicted to increase by as much as 63 percent by 2040, requiring advanced crash avoidance technology in trucks is crucial," the groups noted, also praising the speed limiter requirement.



  1. 1. JL [ July 14, 2015 @ 03:19AM ]

    It just doesn't stop. They keep regulating and legislating and raising operational costs. How many drivers will lose their jobs when they make a law banning long commutes to work? At least this insurance hike is more reasonable, but is it really necessary? Our insurance company doesn't even write 750k policies because no one accepts them. We all carry at least a million already. Tired and discouraged with all this nonsense.

  2. 2. Tom [ July 14, 2015 @ 03:46AM ]

    It doesn't end...that's a fact. I may be speaking as an out-of-date, dinosaur driver having started in 1978 and still in the business as an owner of a couple of class 8 trucks, but I have to literally ignore about 99% of this continuous nonsense that keeps coming up from the regulators that are basing everything on computer generated data and hearsay from other colleagues that have no clue whatsoever about the reality of speed limiters, increased insurance costs and so many other proposals that are on the board for review.
    There are countless employees that have to drive 1-2 hours and more to start their work week due to companies not allowing drivers to park trucks near home or not having adequate space at the driver's end. I used to be one of those victims, having a 1.5 hr. commute each way, each day to go work 14 hours hauling PROPANE to bulk plants around New England, then drive home and do it again 10 hours later. That was 3 hours of commute time, plus the "normal" work day. What would be the solution for that according to the regulators? Either move into the trucking company's dooryard, or have them come to you evidently.
    When you live outside of the populated areas and work is not close, it's a necessary evil to have to commute, if you want to earn a decent wage...that's a cold, hard fact.
    Hourly wages are something that makes perfect sense, but the amount to be paid will be a challenge to decide on.

  3. 3. Tom [ July 14, 2015 @ 04:05AM ]

    Another thought to consider for regulators; How about penalizing RECEIVERS and SHIPPERS at the federal level for taking more than a sensible time to load/unload trucks at their facilities?
    Case in point: I help a local repair/towing company when they tow broken down trucks by taking the (usually) refrigerated trailers and the drivers under my wing, and getting them to a motel nearby and delivering their loads to one of two local food distribution warehouses here on the Vermont/New Hampshire borders.
    One snowy day this winter, an owner operator broke down literally 2 miles form the New Hampshire warehouse, the tow truck hooked to the trailer and hauled it to the receiver where there was a 4:00 p.m. appointment time. The tow truck was 15 minutes late, the receiving clerk said "sorry, you're late, come back tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. and by the's a $250.00 late charge..." Isn't that nice...?
    I delivered the load the next morning personally for the unfortunate driver, it took 3 hours for 6 skids of non refrigerated product to come off, something I could have done myself in 15 minutes if they'd let you.
    Last week, another driver broke down and I took the job of delivering a full load of frozen product to a Vermont warehouse. He was refused delivery the day before due to a glitch in the system's appointment time, so he left to go to a truckstop and broke down. I took it back there at 3:00 a.m. the following morning, they said "sorry, you don't have an appointment, call this number and come back tomorrow..." This was the SECOND attempt to innocently deliver a load that the driver ran overnight from Ohio to Vt. to get off that they refused him the first time.
    I finally was accepted the THIRD day at 3:45 a.m....backed into the door, dropped the trailer and they call you when done. I was called at 8:45 a.m. and was finally empty. I am so glad I do tanker and flatbed work normally...I couldn't hack this kind of incompetence.

  4. 4. Tom [ July 14, 2015 @ 04:19AM ]

    So to conclude, I'd say if the problems related to delay times could be federally regulated by targeting the SHIPPERS and RECEIVERS so that they would receive a penalty for holding a truck for more than a sensible amount of time to do what they have to do to release it from the dock, (i.e; ONE HOUR), things would definitely become a lot more efficient indeed.
    Normally in my field of work in the liquid and flatbed industries, we allow ONE hour delay time, then it's an hourly fee thereafter until completed. That really gets things motivated. Currently there are no rules governing this part of the industry, and to me seems to be one area that I would totally agree on having the federal regulators create some penalties, rather than all the oppressive other ones such as neck sizes, sleep testing and many other unnecessary rules that just keep causing more financial pressure on the ones doing their part to work and pay their already fair share of taxes.
    Anybody have the same thoughts, or am I just a lonely voice in the wilderness?
    Keep in mind...I'm not even involved in the reefer/dry van world, I'm just speaking as an advocate for those that experience the things I just wrote don't shoot the messenger.

  5. 5. Adrian [ July 14, 2015 @ 04:37AM ]

    Senators have no clue about a good idea.regulate the min per mile the broker need to pay a truck.or a % the need to make. I am tired to see brokers charging shippers 4 dollars per mile and paying the trucker 1.25 per mile.this non sense need to stop. Please do something for the trucker not against.

  6. 6. Frank [ July 14, 2015 @ 04:52AM ]

    Truckers are subjected to random drug and alcohol tests, they have to have a new physical every 2 years or sooner. What about the motoring public? They need to be subjected to random drug and alcohol testing and physicals every 4 years when they renew their license, just like truckers do. They share the road with truckers, the other motorists cause 80-85% of the crashes involved with a CMV, and their bodies (eyesight, reaction time, etc) change just like truckers. They should be subjected to the same regulation as truckers....there are plenty of people on the highway that should not be.

  7. 7. James Alford Sr [ July 14, 2015 @ 06:42AM ]

    Speed limiters are useless. Most of the speeding I see now a days is by trucks that already have limits. They pass me in cities, and construction where the speed is 55mph. I pass them back where it is 70. How does speed limiters solve that?

  8. 8. Jeffrey Garrett [ July 14, 2015 @ 07:01AM ]

    I would like to thank the senator for looking into this.I've thought for years drivers should be paid by the hour and overtime (company drivers).if drivers made a good wage and not have too run too many hours,roads would be safer,less driver turnover..look at company's like ups,wal mart,yrc,,well paid and no driver turnover

  9. 9. Joe [ July 14, 2015 @ 07:16AM ]

    I really think it's about time that the drivers in this country stand up and take some peaceful sort of action like taking a week off and let's see how well this country gets along with out us moving the products these safety coalitions use daily other drivers in other countries have done similar things and finally got some respect for the job we do as well as the government backing off and working on solutions that help everyone not just the safety groups that have no idea about anything but making our lives harder.

  10. 10. Mike [ July 14, 2015 @ 07:51AM ]

    With all this talk about trucks this and trucks that, regulations placed on semi drivers, where does anything like this for semis come into play for drivers of NON CDL vehicles....namely cars, pick-ups, motorcycles etc? A previous poster also asked about regulations, physicals for drivers of cars. What about mandating the same items in cars? A 'Vette and can only go 65 mph? I had a lane departure system once and it was the most annoying thing as it would go off at times w/o warning. No means of controlling the volume of it and speakers are right above the driver/pass doors/ears of where a person would sit. Noise would scare the bejesus out of you and that alone could cause an accident.

    What about BMI indexes for car drivers? Limits for them to drive? I agree w/ some aspects of this proposal, but obviously not all. Another 10 years and I'm outta this job.

  11. 11. Joe Knudson [ July 14, 2015 @ 10:49AM ]

    The problem is the same as with most regulations. There is no one size fits all legislation that works for all truckers. What works for long haul truckers going coast to coast doesn't work for LTL drivers driving 8 to 12 hours per day.

  12. 12. John Mullen [ July 18, 2015 @ 11:35AM ]

    Well done Sen. Booker, replacing mileage pay with hourly pay ends the practice of no pay delays, one of the main causes of driver turnover and shortage. Hourly pay must be uniform for all hours on duty, driving and all types of duties and delays. Removes the need for aggressive driving to compensate for delays. The log book becomes a time card. When the carrier bills the shipper and/or consignee for delay time, which he must to recover his cost, delays will become minimal.

  13. 13. Phillip [ July 18, 2015 @ 03:40PM ]

    Hourly pay will not work for OTR drivers. They will just kill time and no loads would get delivered on time. There has to be an incentive to get the loads delivered. There has to be a balance of miles driven and driver compensation.

  14. 14. Timothy [ July 20, 2015 @ 09:24PM ]

    It would become like any other job Phillip. If you can't get the job done well find someone who will.

  15. 15. SLM [ July 21, 2015 @ 10:59AM ]

    All jobs in trucking are terrible, always have been and always will be. You hear of driver complaints and the driver shortage but it's all areas of the industry that push people away. I believe most trucking companies and their employees try to do a good job but the industry overall just stinks. If you're not in it stay out and if you are in it I'm sure you're looking to get out.

  16. 16. bill [ July 21, 2015 @ 11:37AM ]

    Its about time drivers are compensated for their time away from their terminals. When fast food workers are trying to get $15.00 hourly wages a truck driver or a nurse who has to get a college degree and pass a state boards test and have All the responsibility for their profession something is wrong with these politicians passing regulations for workers.

  17. 17. Stu Helfer [ July 24, 2015 @ 03:24PM ]

    The addage that "They will just kill time and no loads would get delivered on time. There has to be an incentive to get the loads delivered" is misleading at best. The only incentive needed is for a driver to maintain his/her job based on their ability to safely and legally (ie: speed limit, Hours of Service, weight and route restrictions and other laws) move the product in a safe and professional manner. Should someone be stealing time by sleeping on the job or 'dogging it', they face the consequences.

    The idea of incentives such as tonnage pay, pay by load, pay by mile, etc. is nothing more than dangling a carrot in front of a horse, promoting unsafe speeds, overweight loads, excessive hours and so forth at the risk of public safety; all for the purpose of putting profits ahead of people's lives.

    The fact of the matter is that the Trucking Industry has shifted the liability from themselves onto others by way of third party carriers, and those same companies and brokers (who often skim money off of rates before compensating a driver (who is usually not an independent contractor but rather a misclassified employee) are additionally promoting unsafe driving by such compensation based schemes.

    I've seen the result of drivers attempting to "chase the carrot" and it has not been pretty.

  18. 18. Stephen Roberts [ July 25, 2015 @ 05:08PM ]

    Leave to our legislators to mess up things again. Except for the minimum insurance deal, the rest of the material will just drive up costs that WILL eventually be passed on down to the consumers. Instead of all these regulations on trucking, why not have these lawmakers spend 18 months as an OTR operator to see what it's really like?

  19. 19. Tom Bosch [ July 25, 2015 @ 06:07PM ]

    Stephen Roberts
    Good luck with that. John and Jane Elected Official (and I use that term loosely) are so far out of touch with reality they are in another dimension entirely. As they continue to cut the nation's collective throats by continuing to over-regulate the trucking industry, they will eventually bring it near total collapse. And let's not forget the Road Nazis looking out for our safety by handing out tickets for hundreds or thousands of dollars for a missing reflector. If you want accountability, you first need to enforce common sense.

  20. 20. Certified Director of Saf [ July 27, 2015 @ 09:04AM ]

    How is raising the insurance rates from a minimum of $750,000 to 1.5 million and raising insurance cost to match inflation going to keep the public safer or help the already strained industry that all Americans depend on to move their consumer goods? This is truly a democratic ideology that is lacking in creativity. How about you idiots in Washington create a bill that will make it mandatory for the youth or any person new to driving ride with a commercial driver for a week to get a clear and present understanding of what really happens behind the wheel of a large vehicle, stopping distance etc. For once incorporate a program that is beneficial to all motorists, not just the sue happy public that cause most of the accident in the first place due to their lack of knowledge, understanding and ignorance...


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