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How Do Truck Drivers Get Paid?

Truck Accident Attorneys at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys explain truck driver pay and job-related hazards

truck driver pay and safety truck accident attorneys munley lawTruck drivers are essential to our economy and should be compensated as such. While truck driving can be a good way to make a living, it is not without risks. Many trucking and transportation companies prioritize safety and the well-being of their workers; however, some companies push their drivers to physical and financial limits, which can have disastrous effects on driver safety. As truck accident attorneys, we represent many truck drivers who have been hurt on the job. A truck accident attorney knows how trucking company practices and safety violations can put truckers at risk.  In this article, our truck accident lawyers will outline the various ways truck driver pay is determined, and highlight important links between driver pay and highway safety.

What is the average truck driver’s salary?

According to, heavy truck drivers earn an average pay of $45,655, which normally extends up to $52,907 per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found similar numbers. The BLS statistics suggest that an average truck driver in the U.S. earns $47,130 per year, which is equivalent to $22.66 per hour.

What Are the Main Determinants for a Truck Driver’s Salary?

As with other professions, the money that truck drivers get depends on several factors. Here are the main salary determinants:

  • The mileage – You can earn more if you are willing to drive for longer distances/more miles can mean extra pay.
  • The location – Poor road conditions call for higher truck driver salaries.
  • Driver’s experience – The most experienced truck drivers have a direct influence on higher salaries. Driver’s experience level can help determine truck driver pay rates.
  • Education and licensing – Drivers with a CDL and other commercial licenses earn more than the others.
  • The hiring company – Some companies offer bonuses and other perks, which make the overall truck driving salary more.
  • The load type – Jobs involving overload equipment or flatbed trucks demand higher pay than the regular loads.
  • The state Some states offer higher salaries to truck drivers than others. Connecticut, for instance, offers a median average salary of $59,000, while Hawaii offers the least with an average median of Hawaii $31,000.

What Are the Types of Pay Truck Drivers Can Receive?

Now that you know the main influencers of the truck drivers’ salaries, check out these nine types of truck drivers’ salaries:

Hourly Pay

Here, the salary compensation is based on the number of hours you work only and not the miles you travel. Most industries pay per hour, which makes hourly pay the most common truck driving payment method. Drivers who receive this type of pay deliver goods in areas less than 150 miles away from the company’s location.

Warehousing companies such as FedEx and UPS are familiar with the hourly truck driving payment method. These companies expect the drivers to carry out the loading and unloading processes, in addition to the primary driving role. The drivers also interact directly with the customers, especially when delivering door groceries.

The rate of hourly pay increases gradually with experience.

Pay per Mile

Pay per Mile is also known as the Cent per Mile payment method. Companies that offer this payment method compensate drivers depending on the number of miles they travel. Here are three common pay per mile methods that truck drivers use:

  • Practical mileage – The employer calculates the miles using the most practical/efficient path between the company and the destination. The distance calculation is done using a satellite known as the route.
  • Hub mileage – The hub mileage is the actual miles figure that appears on the truck’s odometer. The odometer reading includes all the miles accrued, including the reroutes and the stopovers.
  • Household goods mileage – Companies calculate this mileage by finding the shortest distance between the post office zip of the destination and the post office zip of the origin.
  • Sliding scales – This method is used by employees who need to offer high compensation rates to the truck drivers who drive small distances. For instance, the short distance (1 to 500 miles) hauls may get $0.65 CPM, while those who drive more than 500 miles may get $0.60 CPM.

Some employers require drivers to complete a specified number of miles per week to attain a certain CPM.


Salary is the standard payment method for permanent truck drivers. The drivers expect a certain predetermined amount every day, week, or month. The pay is always flat, irrespective of the miles or the hours they work.

However, the pay is subject to increment with time according to how you agree with your employer. Truck drivers with a predetermined salary work for specified hours, and they can receive extra compensation for the extra hours they work.

Pay Per Load

Pay per load payment method is not common in the United States. However, some companies that deal with agricultural products, oil and gas, trash, or local deliveries accept this method. Drivers who transport the heaviest loads on trucks get the highest pay.

Per Diem Pay

Simply put, per diem pay means pay per day. It is the money that truck drivers get as food and rental allowances when they travel long distances. Per Diem Pay is non-taxable. Your employer includes the money in your paycheck but does not tax the amount.

Layover or Detention Pay

Layover payment is made to drivers who stay for an extended period on the road waiting for the receiver or the shopper.

Some companies consider that prolonged waiting period as an inconvenience to the truck driver because, in some cases, the driver may end up spending his/her own money to eat or seek shelter. The layover or detention fee is common in the firms which offer the pay per mile structure.

Stop Pay

Stop pay applies to the truck drivers who are required to make several stops before reaching their destination. Most of these stops can be time-consuming, and sometimes, the driver may take more time on the stopover, other than the miles traveled.

The stop pay is meant to motivate the truck drivers who would otherwise be bored by the multiple stopovers.

Special Incentive Pay

Truck drivers earn special incentive pay when they drive trucks on poor roads or carry hazardous materials. The employer may decide to include the special incentive pay on the paycheck or not. Also, the employer can solely decide on the amount of incentive pay they will offer.


A bonus is similar to special incentive pay. The only difference is that bonuses are offered to the truck drivers who show exemplary results in their work. Other companies offer structured bonuses for fuel expenses, inspections, safety, and so on.

How Are Non-Company Truck Drivers or Owner-Operators Paid?

According to, the average owner-operator base pay is about $144,000. This pay can vary wildly and can depend on a driver’s experience level, what types of loads they carry (ie transporting hazardous materials might pay more than other loads), and how much time the driver actually wants to spend driving.

There are two main ways a non-company driver or owner-operator is paid:

  • Mileage. A driver gets paid a set amount for the miles traveled, independent of the load values. This is usually a more consistent driver pay.
  • Percentage of load. Drivers take between 25-85% of the total load revenue. This is great if a driver accepts a high-value load. Lower value loads lower the total payment with some drivers barely breaking even on these trips.

Since many owner-operators work with a single carrier for more consistent work, they might choose one payment method over the other; or combine them.

Owner-Operator vs. Company Driver Pay

There are two ways to look at driver salaries: gross and net salaries. Owner-operators may make more than what a company driver earns but that is usually gross salary. Gross salary seems like more money but this is the total income before expenses and taxes are deducted. A driver’s net revenue is what is left after expenses, such as health insurance and taxes, have been deducted.

Most company drivers have no overhead and have health insurance and taxes taken out of their paychecks automatically. An owner-operator needs to buy or lease and maintain a truck, be sure they pay their taxes at tax time, cover health insurance costs, and more.

Do Truck Drivers Receive Hazzard Pay?

Truck driving can be a well-paying profession. It is also one of the most dangerous and physically demanding jobs.  Transportation company hiring practices and pay structures can increase the danger for truckers and other drivers on the road.

Some pay structures essentially incentivize truckers to drive longer hours than it is safe to do so. If truckers are paid by the mile or are only paid when a delivery is made on time, it can encourage truckers to put themselves and the driving public at risk by driving more than the federal hours of service regulations or hazardous conditions. Longer driving hours may also result in drowsy driving, which is one of the leading causes of truck crashes.truck drivers and truck accidents

In the United States, federal regulations such as the hours-of-service rules exist to limit the amount of time a driver can stay on the road before he/she must rest, for safety’s sake. However, we have seen many instances where a trucker, compelled to continue driving, falsified his/her logbooks, or violated the hours of service rule – not put safe driving as a priority and end up in a crash. These crashes claimed the lives of truck drivers as well as other motorists. To prove that the trucking company was reckless and at fault, you will need an experienced truck accident attorney.

As truck accident lawyers, we are familiar with federal trucking regulations and we know how to examine whether a regulatory violation contributed to a crash. We can obtain and examine truck driver logbooks and the truck’s black box or electronic data recorder, transportation company records, and more. Sometimes it is only after tragedy has occurred that a negligent company will be held accountable for reckless practices, and it is our hope that legal action can encourage improved safety in the future.

How Truck Drivers Avoid Truck Accidents?

Studies show that many truck drivers are overworked, overtired, and underpaid. In fact, some drivers work for almost 50% more hours than workers in other professions.

Extreme working pressure makes some drivers cause accidents, especially when the weather is unfavorable. Furthermore, most truck drivers haul at night when the visibility is poor.

While you can’t control the actions of the other drivers, you can take these actions to reduce accident risks:

  • Don’t break the road rules. You would rather make a late delivery than speed and cause an accident
  • Know how to drive well despite the weather conditions
  • Always buckle your seatbelt, and notify your employer if there’s an issue with the truck

What Are Some of the Highest-Paid Truck Driving Jobs?


Indeed lists the salary is $247,850, but as mentioned above, this includes a lot more responsibility and expenses.

Ice Road Drivers

We might not have any ice road truckers on Pennsylvania roads but this tough job rings in at number two and is one of the most challenging truck driving jobs.

Oversized Load Drivers

An oversized load is a load that is above the legal dimensions for a standard haul set by federal regulations. These require expertise in handling large loads and in following the additional regulations

 Specialty Vehicle Haulers

Specialty vehicle haulers transport high-end, expensive, and luxury automobiles, antiques, art and collectibles, and other high-priced items.truck accidents caused by cars

Team Drivers

A driving team is usually two drivers who switch off to keep their load moving almost constantly. A team can make a trip in nearly half the time it takes a solo driver.

Private Fleet

Some major retailers employ a private fleet of trucks and drivers to transport their goods from warehouses and distribution centers to their retail locations or to consumers.

Mining Industry Drivers

Mining industry drivers are the ones who operate huge dump trucks in mining/quarry operations. They can also be employed at port locations transporting raw materials.


A lot goes into transporting liquid materials; they move and shift throwing off the center of balance in the truck. Many liquids can be hazardous materials or flammable.

Hazmat Drivers

Hazardous materials require a skilled and specially trained driver. Hazmat drivers must also pass a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) background investigation,  maintain additional endorsements, and follow additional state and federal regulations.

What to Do When You Get Into a Truck Accident

A truck accident can result in severe and catastrophic injuries. However, you should not suffer in silence when another party causes the accident. If you are fortunate enough to get out of the scene, you should get in touch with your truck injury lawyer to help you seek justice for the damages.

The right lawyer can help you get medical care for the injuries, in addition to financial compensation for any wages lost.

If you are a truck driver and have suffered an accident because of someone else’s negligence, contact a truck accident attorney at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation. Our award-winning truck accident lawyers will fight for you to help you recover all the money and damages that the accident causes you.

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