Time means nothing to an over-the-road driver. But it seems a couple of carriers, at least, are trying to rectify that. A couple of recent announcements from Baylor Trucking and Con-way Truckload regarding weekly minimum pay for their drivers are heartening indeed.
Drivers don't often get paid for sitting still. Guaranteed minimum pay reduces the stress of unproductive time.
Drivers don't often get paid for sitting still. Guaranteed minimum pay reduces the stress of unproductive time.

Baylor Trucking Inc., a 300-truck dry-van carrier based in Milan, Ind., announced a pay raise for company drivers allowing them to make up to 44 cents per mile. On top of that, the company has instituted a minimum weekly pay of $1,000. That's a big step forward for drivers who traditionally have gone to work on Monday not knowing with any certainty what they'd take home for their trouble.

With the recent raise, a driver working a reasonable week of 2,500 miles stands to earn $1,100 in mileage pay. Knowing that regardless of externally imposed delays, he or she will still make at least $1,000 offers drivers a great deal of security.

Con-way Truckload of Ann Arbor, Mich., has offered its team drivers pay for a minimum of 5,000 miles a week, which is a pretty comfortable week's work for a team. Con-way says the program is intended to minimize the negative impact of dwell time and inconsistent miles, and guarantee team drivers reliable pay periods.

One of the most consistent complaints you hear from team drivers involves sitting time. Those folks don't make money sitting around, but since some delays are inevitable, knowing that they'll still take home a reasonable check for a week on the road is reassuring.

With all the other challenges associated with life on the road, at least meeting the household expenses will no longer be a significant source of stress for these drivers.

I think savvy drivers will find these types of compensation improvements more meaningful than increases of a couple of cents a mile -- at least in the short term. You need to be moving for the mileage-based raises to have any impact; if the truck sits, the raise means little.

I say in the short-term because rates are on their way up -- perhaps by as much as four to six percent this year, some analysts suggest. Pay rates will need to improve accordingly. As capacity tightens, which seems inevitable thanks to CSA, more stringent medical requirements, speed limiters, EOBRs, etc. increases will be easier to get and to make stick. Drivers are going to want a share of those spoils over time.

But until that happens, I'm gratified to see carriers responding to drivers' concerns in this meaningful way. My hat is off to Baylor and Con-way for recognizing the fundamental need for a predictable paycheck. And I'm sure the folks at home will be equally excited about the prospect of a steady income.

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