Truck driver wages should reflect demand

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The average Canadian truck driver salary is approximately $45,000 per year or $23 per hour. Entry level positions (for drivers with less than two years experience) tend to start lower, around $30,000 per year, while experienced drivers can make up to $80,000 per year. But in an industry that is struggling to meet the demand for more drivers, shouldn’t employers increase wages or offer monetary or other incentives to attract more people to enter this workforce?

“Trucking and logistics has a 6.6% vacancy rate, one of the highest across all industries and more than double the national average of 3.2%. This is despite the fact that the driver workforce, which is approximately 318,000 people, is at a five-year high. Studies suggest that there are more than 20,000 vacant driver positions today.”1

While it might seem like increasing driver wages is a cost you can’t afford, think of it this way: if more trucks are built, and more orders are made, but shipments are just sitting idle in warehouses waiting to be picked up and there are no drivers to make the deliveries, you’re actually losing money. Drivers are the lifeblood of the transportation industry. They’re the ones who keep business moving.

How drivers are paid 

Depending on the carrier, drivers are either paid hourly, or by mileage. And, it’s important to remember that delivery drivers don’t get paid when they’re not delivering. Becoming a driver trainer is one way to increase a truck driver’s salary. Drivers can also look to haul over sized freight or hazardous materials as another way to earn more money, or employers could offer a percentage of each load run as a bonus or incentive. But beyond different tactics, it’s important to recognize that drivers are doing more than ever before, beyond driving, and that an increase in compensation is an appropriate acknowledgement of their increased responsibilities.

Responsibilities beyond driving

There’s so much more now to driving a truck than there used to be. While some technological advancements ultimately help truck drivers and carriers save time and money, there’s still a learning curve to master these technologies, and more hoops to jump through for drivers to get loads to their final destination. Truck drivers now must learn to use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), apply for Free And Secure Trade (FAST) Cards, and put in longer run times, up from even five years ago.

Electronic Logging Devices

Carriers must now comply with a mandate to use ELDs which are used to track a driver’s hours-of-service (HOS). They also help streamline workflow and communication. Connected to a truck’s engine control module (ECM), an ELD is hardware that tracks HOS compliance and transfers stored information to dispatch or DOT/MTO officers during inspections. ELDs store driving information in an unalterable, standardized format. 

Proper use of an ELD benefits drivers by improving downtime, and enables quicker roadside inspections by MTO officers. The faster and more efficient drivers can deliver their freight, the more cost savings can be passed on to customers. And companies who have already integrated ELDs into their systems are seeing increased driver retention, improved road safety, and decreased violations,which all add up to even more cost savings.

Free And Secure Trade Cards

Truck drivers who cross the American border for work can apply for a FAST Card, an identity document that allows drivers and their trucks to be pre-cleared for customs when crossing the Canada-US borders. It’s for American or Canadian citizens, or permanent residents of either country, and gives drivers access to special lanes at certain border crossings.

Hours of service (HOS)

Truck drivers days aren’t the typical 9-5. Many drivers are expected to work up to 70 hours over an eight-day period and while setting their own schedule is common for long distance (OTR) driving, many delivery drivers must put the time in during morning and evening rush hours. 

Drivers are only human, so once we cap how long someone can spend behind the wheel daily (11 hours max.), and how long they need to rest before driving again (10 hours min.), how can we add value to their time and compensate them fairly? It’s a problem the industry will have to figure out, and fast, if we want to keep pace with the demand for more drivers. 

Employers may see increasing driver salaries or wages as additional costs but it’s really an investment. The better you pay your drivers, the more likely it is they’ll stay with the company, which reduces turnover, and increases productivity. The more drivers you have, the more orders you’ll be able to fulfill, ultimately growing your business. 


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