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Why do truckers stay on the road too long?

You have probably heard on the news about truck driver fatigue, and the long days many New York truckers put in. The law says they are allowed to drive for 11 hours of their maximum 14-hour days, and that seems like enough to exhaust anyone. Many stay out on the road longer, though, and do what they can to make it appear they are within the law. Why?

According to the long-haul commercial truck drivers who responded to The New York Times, the main issue is how they are paid. If you are paid hourly wages, you receive compensation for each hour on the job. Truckers typically are paid by the mile. That traffic jam that made you late getting home cost the trucker in the lane next to you a portion of the day's check. 

Another drain on wages which is out of a truck operator's control is the time spent at loading docks. The workers who load the tractor-trailer are on the clock, and they may not feel the pressure to get things done quickly. It could take them much longer to finish than the three hours that a trucker can work without cutting into driving time.

Even when things go well and the miles are flying by on the open road, truckers may be receiving a very low mileage rate that is not regulated by the same minimum wage laws that regulate your earnings. Federal law allows them to work a 70-hour week--almost two full-time jobs. However, after adjusting for inflation, the average over-the-road driver makes less than truckers did nearly 30 years ago because of the deregulation of the industry.

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