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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.
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