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Commercial motor vehicle driving is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. The production of most trucking services takes places on public roadways, which makes commercial motor vehicle safety a topic of concern for industry stakeholders, supply chain operations, policy makers, and the general public. This study explores the relationship between new employee driver compensation and for-hire interstate truckload motor carrier crash incidence. The results suggest that, all else constant, higher benefits are associated with fewer crashes. While mileage pay rates predict crashes, we find that higher mileage rates can be correlated with either higher or lower crash frequency – depending on the carrier’s existing starting pay level. This may be due to pernicious incentives created by piece-rate pay structures, because drivers who have more unpaid non-driving work time may earn a slightly higher mileage pay rate, which only partially compensates them for unpaid labour time. Regardless, these results suggest that compensation is an important predictor of safety and the existing pay practices in the industry may be unsafe. It also suggests that the role of compensation in motor carrier safety performance deserves further exploration with better quality data–especially full documentation of hours of work and pay rates.
Researchers have studied truck crashes extensively using methods appropriate for behavior, technology, and regulatory enforcement. Few safety studies associate crashes with economic pressure, a pervasive latent influence. This study uses data from the US Large Truck Crash Causation Study to predict truck crashes based on work pressure factors that have their origins in market pressures on motor carriers and truck drivers. Logistic regression shows that factors associated with the work process, including an index of work-pressure attributes, predict the likelihood that crash analysts consider the truck driver to be the person whose last action could have prevented the crash. While not proving causation, the data suggest that economic factors affecting drivers contribute significantly to truck crashes.
While other research has shown that higher paid truck and bus drivers are safer, this is the first study showing why higher paid drivers are safer. We estimate the labour supply curve for long-haul truck drivers in the United States, applying two-stage least squares regression to a national survey of truck drivers. We start with the standard model of the labour supply curve and then develop two novel extensions of it, incorporating pay level and pay method, and testing the target earnings hypothesis. We distinguish between long-haul and short-haul jobs driving commercial motor vehicles. Truck and bus drivers choose between long-distance jobs requiring very long hours of work away from home and short-distance jobs generally requiring fewer hours. The labour supply curve exhibits a classic backward bending shape, reflecting drivers’ preference to work until they reach target earnings. Above target earnings, at a ‘safe rate’ for truck drivers, they trade labour for leisure, working fewer hours, leading to greater highway safety. Drivers work fewer hours at a higher pay rate and likely have less fatigue. Pay rates also have implications for driver health because worker health deteriorates as working time exceeds 40 hours.
Supply chain security presents numerous challenges to governments interested in defending against terrorist threats. While most approaches stress technological solutions, scholars and policy-makers tend to overlook economics, labour market issues, and industrial relations. Applying agency theory from behavioural economics, this article analyses threats to the US supply chain and opportunities for efficient solutions. Using data from a sophisticated web-based survey of owner-operator cost-of-operations, it shows that drayage drivers are among the lowest paid truck drivers and workers in the US. We provide evidence that low pay is associated with both safety and security risk. Low-wage labour and subcontracting present challenges to US and foreign supply-chain security because the market attracts workers who have few other employment options. In this environment, principals and agents currently make inefficient and inequitable contracts because markets do not reflect the complete costs associated with low-probability/high-impact events like cargo theft and transport security.
Large truck crashes remain a significant problem in the truckload sector of the US motor carrier industry. Employing a unique firm-level data set from a large US truckload motor carrier, we identified two different driver groups hired during two distinct pay regimes. Before-and-after data on wages and safety outcomes created a natural experiment. Higher wages paid to experienced drivers in the new pay regime led to higher driver retention rates. Experienced drivers had lower average crash costs and were more productive during each tenure month. Experienced drivers had a much larger expected discounted net present value when compared with inexperienced drivers. As the previously inexperienced drivers gained additional experience, their crash probabilities and their value began to mirror those of the experienced drivers, demonstrating the value of greater tenure. This research supports ‘safe rates’ public policy because safety pays – for trucking companies, for cargo owners and for society.
In the trucking industry, truck drivers’ duties include not only driving trucks but also non-driving labor. However, non-driving work is not necessarily paid. This article analyses how the payment for non-driving duties (non-driving pay) affects truck drivers’ work hours. Using the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Long-Haul Truck Driver survey, the study finds that remunerating drivers for non-driving duties decreases drivers’ work hours. Drivers who are paid for their non-driving labor may reach their target earnings in fewer work hours, leading them to refrain from working extremely long hours and more willingly comply with working time regulations. The policy implication is that paying for non-driving labor can prevent drivers from working excessively long hours, mitigating fatigue, and consequent accidents. Thus, pay for non-driving labor may enhance their safety and health.
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