Do Truck Drivers Receive Overtime?

Most truck drivers are exempt from overtime pay under the Motor Carrier Exemption Law of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Even though the majority of truck drivers are not paid by the hour, instead the majority are paid by the mile.

With this being the case in the majority of everything related to being a truck driver.  This is not the fact for every single truck driver or commercial vehicle operator.  To find out all of the why’s to this and additional ways a trucker can be paid outside of driving, continue to read everything below. 


Why Truck Drivers Are Exempt From Overtime Pay?

Let’s start with understanding why most truck drivers are not paid overtime pay.  I find this to be important to know up front, rather than later on.

There are couple main reasons for this in simple terms.  The first being that when a motor carrier company registers itself, it has documents and etc, that must be filled out.  Of these forms, the new motor carrier company determines its business plans, and how it will conduct its business.

This includes how safety-affecting the activities will be for the various different types of employees it will employ, including truckers.

Per the FLSA, if the employer has involvement in interstate commerce, and if an employee is expected to make an interstate journey or could have worked on the motor vehicle.  These could be viewed as safety-affecting duties.

Any duty that is a safety-affecting duty, that is continuous throughout a work day, and are performed regularly.  Is an exemption in the eyes of the FLSA.

Let’s dig a little deeper and understand what is considered “Safety-Affecting” so we can have the full understanding of this.  Safety-Affecting duties include any duties that may put the employee and the general public at any kind of risk directly.

My understanding is while I am traveling across state lines and if I have a tire blow on my trailer.  That is a safety-affecting impact possibly on the general public.

Now if I decided to fix the same blown out tire, and I injured myself while replacing the tire.  That is a safety-affecting impact on me as an employee.

This also includes accidents, incidents and all the other possible dangers that can go along with trucking.  If you would like to know more about the dangers associated with being a truck driver.  Check out my article I have written on the dangers of trucking here.

The second part of this is that most truck drivers are not paid by the hour.  Local Company Truck Drivers tend to be the majority of the type of truck driver that is paid by the hour.

The majority of truckers are paid by the mile.  Followed by being paid by the load either as an owner operator or as a percentage of the load as a company driver.  There may be some salaried truck drivers in that mix of things as well.

Being paid by any method other than by the hour will result in some ways as more pay. In other ways, it will result in less pay.


Comparing Pro’s And Con’s Of Hourly Verses Other Pay.

Hourly Pros:

    • Being paid by the hour will result in most hours worked throughout the day as a paid time.
    • While being paid by the hour, sitting parked waiting on a customer to load or unload freight, allows you to remain on the clock and be paid for all of your time sitting.
    • Those that are paid by the hour should be in less of a hurry to get somewhere due to they are paid the same throughout the entire workday no matter what they may or not be doing.  This in a way could be safer practices.

Other Wage Payment Pros:

    • The sooner you arrive somewhere no matter how much time it took you to arrive, the sooner you can start your next transport.  The more money you can make within a certain time frame.
    • This normally can average out to a bit more than the average hourly wage.
    • Truck Drivers that are the top producers of miles driven or gross revenue through tracking of loads, at times receive bonuses at the end of the year by the company they drive for.  Which adds more to your overall income.
    • When you perform additional duties outside of driving like loading or unloading, for example, you may be provided additional income for your labor by the trucking company you are employed by.
    • If you’re picking up or dropping off at multiple stops, the extra stops may also pay you additional pay, based on your trucking companies work policies.

Hourly Cons:

    • Usually, you are paid the same hourly rate throughout your entire day regardless of what on the job work duties you performed.  Driving, loading, unloading, and others all pay you the same amount.
    • Many times the company policy of hourly trucking employment requires you to be back on the clock in 10 hours from the time that you punched out.
    • When you have multiple stops to arrive to, many times you are paid your same normal hourly wage.

Other Wage Payment Cons:

    • When your sitting in a dock waiting to be loaded or unloaded with freight.  There is usually a set amount of detention time that must occur first before you can start collecting pay for sitting.  The industry standard is 2 hours of time that you may sit for free so that the customer has enough time to complete it’s loading or unloading process.
    • When you are broken down, and your truck ends up in a shop for the day.  You may receive $50 to $100 breakdown pay, but that’s normally half or more of what you could make if we’re driving.
    • At times some may feel rushed, or that they need to rush.  Which could cause some, to want to drive faster than the posted speed limit. Being caught and pulled over then cited for speeding takes money out of your pocket.  As do accidents and other things that could be the result of driving unsafe.

For these reasons above I can understand why some want to be paid by the hour and others wish to be paid by the popular alternative methods.

The third part of this is, if you make more than $913.00 per week, or gross over $47,476.00 per year, this alone could make you exempt as a truck driver from overtime pay in conjunction with performing a safety-affecting duty as described from the above will make you be exempt from overtime pay.


How Much Do Truckers Get Paid?

If we take into account all types of truck driving.  The average truck driver will have driven between 1,700 to 3,100 miles per truck driver.  This is taking into account local drivers, regional drivers, oversize and their restrictions to Over The Road Team Drivers (2 truckers taking turns driving 1 semi truck).

The following wages come from /toolkit/wages/find-salary which is a tool anyone can use to help you find the wages for any career field.  I’m utilizing this tool to provide unbiased information.  Since many sources at times tend to base their information on this topic off of a particular company.

USA Company Truck Driver Averages:

$27,610 to $64,000 Yearly Gross

$13.22 to $30.77 Per Hour

$0.24 to $0.80 Per Mile

The above does not include pay for owner-operators.  What it does include is an average basis from a low to high standpoint.  These are not the lowest lows nor the highest highs of company semi-truck driver wages (Class A CDL).  Again, these are the average ranges including every type of company truck driver wages.

Owner-operators (O/O), depending on if they are leased to a trucking company or are their own trucking company make money similarly but there’s more math that goes into it.

O/O’s are normally paid by a load of freight, by the mile, and by the transported move or relocation.  Typically after doing a little bit of research on the current market trends for O/O’s by using the DAT load board as a reference.

USA O/O Truck Driver Averages based on the most common areas of trucking:

As of this article written on 1/27/19, these are the average spot rates for the basic 3 freight types I found within the DAT  Load Board.

Drybox: Average Spot Trend $2.06 per loaded mile

Flatbed: Average Spot Trend $2.42 per loaded mile

Referidgerated: Average Spot Trend $2.42 per loaded mile


Additional Ways Some Truckers Get Paid

Since receiving overtime pay is pretty much out of the question for truck drivers.  There are additional ways that truckers could and do get paid.  However, I just need to say something really quick first.

Pro Trucker Hack:  It never hurts to ask a trucking company you are applying for employment at if they pay overtime, or if they have any bonuses or additional ways you could earn additional income.  Go ahead and ask, and many times you will be surprised at what you find out.

Many times when a truck driver goes to a customer, the trucking company may have lumpers awaiting and ready to load or unload the freight within the trailer.  While backed into the dock, these laborers will do the work.

Though many times lumpers charge the trucking company anywhere from $200 all the way up to as high as $500.  To load or unload the freight to or from the trailer.

At the same time, the trucking company may offer the driver $50 to $100 if the truck driver is willing and completes the loading or unloading aspect of the freight.  This could be an additional income for you.

Just keep in mind, the amount of time it may take you to complete this task.  If you were planning on taking a nap while this process occurred so that you remained a safe trucker after the loading or unloading was completed.  To be honest, no amount of money is worth more than you being safe.

Pro Trucker Hack:  If you do decide to take on this task, keep in mind that normally the trucking company you work for is willing to pay lumpers a considerable amount more than what they freely suggested to pay you.

Negotiate a better rate for yourself.  Sometimes you will hear about company policies and fairness.  Many other times, as long as your better rate for yourself isn’t ridiculous you will most likely receive what you ask for.  For example, if you know the lumpers are getting $300 and you know you would only get $100.

I would ask for anywhere from $50 to $100 more.  Since this is still saving them $100 or more as well.  These types of things are all about the bottom line.  If you think like a business, you will make money like a business.

Keep in mind if you take part in any activities that you receive compensation for, you will be required to log it as On-Duty Not Driving, and logged accordingly and correctly.  Ie: Don’t forget your 30-minute breaks within the 8-hour timeframes.

Another option for extra pay is doing extra stops.  Many times just simply asking for this type of load and negotiating a per drop pay rate could put extra money in your pocket.

Plus most trucking companies offer these types of loads to their drivers with extra pay for each additional stop other than the original and final.

Another method is dependent on which area of trucking your a part of.  If your in flatbed, step deck, or the likes.  Instead of trying to get away from tarping loads.  Take the option for the loads that require tarping.  Most of these types of trucking companies offer additional pay for tarping the load.

Earlier in my trucking career, many times if I knew I was going to be sitting at a company terminal for a long period of time.  If I knew with no doubt that I was not going to receive any dispatch till the next day.  If I had a few hours or more than I had available.

I would go to my dispatcher or any dispatcher if was not at the home terminal, and I would say “Hi, I know I was told there wouldn’t be a dispatch for me till tomorrow. Is there any chance you may have a local run in the area that I could do, that normally takes __ (hour less than the amount of time I had available in case of delays) amount of time?”

9 times out of 11 I would be given something to do to make additional money.  A lot of times, I would walk through driver lounges at terminals and I would hear truckers complaining about how they’re not getting any miles.

Pro Trucker Hack: Short 100 to 300-mile runs may use up an entire day at times.  Many times I have found that they lead to a much longer run of ten times or more. Instead of focusing your energy on what you’re not getting.  Use that energy to figure out how to get what you want.

Every single trucker will always prefer to have the long 2,000-mile run.  It’s how we are programmed.  At first driving is fun and exciting, then later it becomes, who’s more stubborn enough to hold out for just the long runs.

New hires usually do get more miles than someone who has been at a trucking company for a while.  This is usually for a few reasons:

  • New Hires at times are paid less, which helps the trucking company retain more funds.
  • New Hires want to make a good impression, so they typically don’t debate a load or the reasons.
  • New Hires are hungry, they want money, maybe they have been out of work for a day or a few months.

Overall, to know what any trucking company does and does not pay for.  The best way to find out and know is by calling them and asking them directly.  Then simply ask one or two of their company truck drivers to make sure everything is copasetic before signing up to work for them.


Frequently Asked Trucker Questions:

What Is A Semi Truck Driver?

A Semi Truck Driver is an individual that safely operates any Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) with a semi-trailer combination where the trailer has 2 or more axles.

Also, this combination of vehicles has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more and the towed vehicle (trailer or trailers) exceeds GVWR of 10,000 pounds


Which License Do Most Truckers Have?

Most truckers have a Class A Commercial Drivers License (CDL).  However, some have a Class B CDL and others may have a Class C CDL.

The difference between these classes of licenses is:

The Class A CDL includes the combining of a vehicle in tow (trailer).

Whereas the Class B CDL only includes the power unit (Straight Truck without a vehicle in tow (trailer). 

The Class C CDL is used to hazardous materials under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act or for vehicles like a bus, where the driver is included in the description of “transporting 16 or more passengers”.

About Michael : Semi Truck Driver

I have been a semi truck driver for approximately 20 years. Throughout this time I have been taught a lot of different things from a lot of different people through the years. I've also learned a lot of things from my own mistakes. With all of this in mind, allow me to share with you what I have been lucky enough to learn.

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