The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is asking for comments on a plan to study a connection between industry pay practices and safe driving.
As reported by Heavy Duty Trucking, the issue arises from FMCSA concerns that drivers who are not paid for downtime, such as waiting excessively to load or unload, are forced into unsafe practices in order to make a living.
The study could support a provision in the Obama administration’s pending highway bill that would require carriers to pay drivers at least the federal minimum wage for supply chain retention such as time spent waiting to be loaded or unloaded.
“The (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) believes that safety could be significantly increased if drivers were compensated for these waiting periods,” the administration says in its analysis of the bill.
In last week’s Federal Register the agency said it intends to “analyze the possible unintended consequences of the various methods by which (commercial) drivers are compensated.”
According to HDT, the agency also intends to look at how the type of operation – long-haul versus short-haul, and big carrier versus small carrier – factors into the pay question, among other things:
Other elements of the analysis will include fundamentals such as private versus for-hire carriage, the number of power units, average length of haul, commodities, the number of drivers in the company and their experience.
The agency will look for how pay and these other variable may affect driver and vehicle out-of-service rates as well as crash rates.
If the study finds a connection between methods of pay and safety, that information will help carriers make informed decisions about their compensation practices, the agency said.
Comments on the proposal are due by October 28.