Truck Drivers Benefits

Companies that are trying to recruit career employees have learned that in addition to pay, other benefits are generally needed. While this was not true prior to unionization in the 1930s and 1940s, it common now for full time employees. In addition there are Federal and State laws in effect that can also affect available benefits, such as over time pay and certain other work condition requirements.

As stated in other sections, companies differ vastly when it comes to offerings. Some offer little more then 5 paid holidays and workers comp (state required accident insurance) up to generous paid vacations, retirement and other perks. If a benefit is important to you, get it in writing and understand all the conditions that require. Not to accuse recruiters of lying, but what you think someone said does not mean that is what they said.

You might have started truck driving as a single person and you are now married and kids are being added to the mix. These life changes require you to consider your total benefits package. As your experience grows, you may opportunities to work for other companies that offer better benefits then what you have now. However, before you jump from one company to another consider what you may be giving up (dispatch seniority, higher pay rates for years with the company, etc) for what ever new benefit you might be offered.

However, understand that when companies offer a benefit, make sure you know the parameters. Companies provide differing levels of benefits. Some benefits are paid for by the company. Some are partially paid for, as the company pays the basic and you pay for enhanced coverage. Other benefits may be offered at discounted group rates but without any company contribution to the costs.

Vacation Time

Most serious companies now offer some amount of paid vacation time for full time drivers. Normally one week is the minimum but you may not qualify for it until after 6 months or, not uncommonly, after 1 year. Many companies (but from all) now provide two weeks, but again the qualification period may be only after starting your 2nd, 3rd or 4th year with the company. Vacations generally have to be taken the year after completing the qualifying for it. So during your 2nd year with the company you will get the one week you earned the prior year. Vacation pay may be calculated by taking your annual earnings and paying you proportionally. Others have a set rate. The set rate could also be higher for more seniority drivers.

Paid Holidays

If a company recognizes and pays for Federal Holidays is vary subjective. The Federal government has 12 key holidays, although most USA employers only provide for 10 paid days off. Many (smaller) employers will provide for about 5 of the major ones as the only paid days. For Over The Road drivers, at some point you are going to be on the road during at least some national holidays. Depending on the company, you may be paid for the day in your paycheck when it occurs (assuming you were forced to sit because you could not load or unload) or you will be given an extra day you can take off during the year (a flex/personal day). Not all companies even pay for holidays, they just give you the opportunity to not have to work.

Health Insurance

With the amount of information available on line about different plans, there is no reason for me to discuss this. Also with all the rapid changing conditions, by the time I finished typing this, it would be changed. The important part is to understand what the company pays for. Just you. You and 1 or 2 dependents? Do you have the option to pay for additional coverages? Health insurance packages have many options so read them carefully.

Dental Insurance

Again, this is covered a lot in the news. Your coverage may include family members and if you have kids you will want to be certain to Orthodontics and Braces coverage, even if you have to pay the extra premiums yourself.

Short Term Disability

Short Term Disability can provide an income in the event you are disabled and can not work because of an accident. Short Term Disability will generally not pay over 1 year but policies vary greatly. Short Term Disability may pay your full [expected] salary while others pay only a portion. Truck driving is a hazardous job. If given the opportunity to get disability pay, it is strongly recommended, even if you have to pay the premiums. Every year, drivers are injured when opening the doors to their trucks from cargo falling that has shifted during transit.

Long Term Disability

Long Term Disability Pay will pay you a salary replacement in the event you have a more serious illness or injury. These can pay as little as 50% to 75% of your lost salary but that is better then nothing. Depending on your job, Long Term Disability may be more important (flatbed, heavy haul, specialized, etc) exposes the driver to more hazardous conditions. However, just the fact that you are spending all day on the road (accidents happen!), you are routinely getting in and out of the truck cab, hooking and unhooking trailers and being around moving equipment unloading and unloading cargo, you are at more risk then an office job.

Life Insurance

What would happen to your family if you were killed or died suddenly? Many people understand the importance of life insurance to provide some security to their family in the event of the loss of life. Life insurance is not as common in trucking, but it may be available through a group plan with the company and you should strongly consider it.


Repeating comments that I have already made: different companies will offer vastly different benefits (or even none at all) and you will want to get information in writing. Some benefits require premiums to be paid and you should know what, if anything, the company is paying. Trucking is hazardous work and having medical insurance, short and long term disability insurance is strongly recommended.

Bonus Pay for Truck Drivers

Truck Drivers are sometimes offered different bonuses. These could be one time, such as Sign On Bonuses or could be earned repeatedly such as Safe Driver Bonuses. Not all companies offer bonuses and earning the bonuses can sometimes be fickle. The best way to treat bonuses when considering where to drive for – assume you will never see them. Then if you get a bonus, it is just that it – a bonus. Check with the company and get information about bonuses in writing.

Sign On Bonuses

Sign on Bonuses are commonly advertized by companies. But signing the agreement does not put the money in your bank account. Also, Sign On Bonuses are often only available to experienced drivers. Generally Sign On Bonuses require a minimum duration of working for the company, with 1 year not uncommon. Other performance requirements such as no accidents, a minimum number of miles driven or other requirements may be tied to earning the bonus. Sign On Bonuses may be available to company drivers and owner/operators.

Truck Driving School Reimbursement

Not technically a bonus, some companies will reimburse truck driving school graduates for their tuition costs. This is almost a form of Sign On Bonuses, since it is designed to recruit drivers to the company. Again, the new driver will nominally be required to meet employment requirements including performance and longevity minimums. Tuition reimbursement and sign on bonuses are seldom both paid to the same driver. You will qualify for one or the other – or neither.

Safety Bonuses

Truck Drivers that get tickets or are in accidents create headaches for companies. Truck drivers that don’t add value to the company. As a result, some companies will offer safety bonuses to drivers that follow the rules and stay out of trouble. Correct log books and correct daily logs generally can be an indication that the driver is playing by the rules. Each company that offers such rewards use numerous different rules to figure who gets bonuses. Some Safety Bonuses are awarded to every driver that makes the cut, some companies only offer the bonus to one or more of all the drivers who qualify, such a Top Driver.

Fuel Bonuses

Fuel costs are one of the largest expenses for all trucking companies. Truck Drivers can save – or cost – their company a lot of money depending on their driving habits. There are numerous ways to figure fuel bonuses. Some companies will calculate a fleet fuel average and reward drivers that achieve some amount better then the fleet’s numbers. Another method used by a few companies is to allow the driver to option to set truck’s speed governor at lower speeds, i.e. 60MPH. The company then reward the driver with 1 or 2 cents per mile in their earnings. Fuel bonuses can be additional pay to the base rate or it could be cash at the end of the year. Seldom do Owner Operators qualify for company fuel bonuses. The O/O pays for the fuel and so any owner that saves on fuel is cutting their own costs.

Longevity Bonuses

Trucking Companies spend a lot of money recruiting and training new drivers. When truck drivers stay with the company longer, it can cut those costs. Depending on the company, both company drivers and occasionally Owner/Operators, can earn bonuses based on their time with the company. Occasionally referred to as seniority bonuses, these bonuses can be additional money added to the base rate or cash bonuses paid annually.

Recruiting Bonuses

Every business knows that word of mouth is best advertising. Be it finding new customers or quality new employees, employees of the company can provide valuable input. Since companies realize that most people will only refer honest, trustworthy and reliable co-workers, they will pay a bonus to the current driver and may also pay a sign on bonus to the new driver.

As with all matters regarding your trucking career, get it in writing.

Happy Trucking, John

Truck Driver Pay – Extra Pay

Trucking companies reward their drivers will basic pay (Per Mile, Percentage, Hourly) and depending on the company, pay for other time or effort may be made. Not every company pays all of these and there are others that I might have missed. Some companies do not pay any of these. And many companies will advertise that they pay – but don’t, at least without a fight.

Detent or Detention Time

Waiting or Detention Time may be paid to drivers who are required to mail to load or unload, if not at fault for the delay. Normally, companies will not pay for the 1st and often the 2nd hour. There is also normally a maximum number of hours the driver can collect for. As such, if the delivery was scheduled for Friday but the driver has to wait until Monday morning, they will not be paid all those hours. Also, companies are seldom generous with Detent Time. Often, the driver will have to make an issue about being paid for it. I never once collected this payment when working as an Expediter, although in a some cases I know the company billed the customer.

Orientation Pay

Nearly every company will require an Orientation. It could be a few hours in a smaller company hiring only highly experienced drivers to upto a week for some companies. Normal Orientation is typically 2 days. Depending on if a company driver or owner/operator, the company may pay mileage to/from training, motel, meals and other expenses. When working for a company that is a Owner/Operator contractor to a larger company, check with your direct employer about payments. Companies may ongoing or additional training which should be paid in some form, but not always. As an expediter, I was required to attend 2 or more drivers’ meetings each year, none of which was paid at all and I lived 60 miles from the office.

Multistop Pay

Occasionally, you may encounter a load that has multiple unloading points. When this happens, the driver is normally paid a Multistop Pay. The initial loading and final unload locations do not count for Multi-stop payments, only intermediate stops. It is also important that get paid for all miles involved, because generally Multistop loads involve more miles then just the distance from the load to final unload points. If you are a percentage driver, this may not be a factor as the load should have higher payments anyway for the extra freight. Also, if you happen to work for a LTL (Less the Trailer Load) carrier, this will not apply. Most LTL companies pay for all miles.

Mileage Variance Pay

Also known as Short Haul Pay, Mileage Variance payments are used during shorter runs. When drivers are paid by the loaded mile, it is obviously more work for the driver to do two 100 mile runs then a single 200 mile job. For this reason, some companies will add to base rate for shorter runs. Like everything else in trucking pay, differences between companies are huge. Some pay for less then 200 miles, some only for less then 100 miles and some – yep – not at all. The pay could be 1 or 2 cents per mile for company drivers or as much as 25 cents or more for owner/operators. Companies that pay for all miles may not pay for short haul.

Over Dimensional Loads

Drivers with Flatbed or drop deck loads may or may not be paid for loads that exceed normal trailer sizes, such as over hanging the sides or the rear of the trailer. The amount of oversize can also be a factor in calculating over sized. A load that 9′ wide may not qualify for payment while a load 10′ will be.

Tarp Pay

Flat bed and drop deck loads on a routine basis are required to be tarpped of covered. Some companies will pay extra for the labor, some do not – so check with the company before signing on.


With 100 companies, you will likely run into 100 different pay structures if you count all the combinations of base pay, extra pay and bonuses you can earn as a truck driver. Making a chart of the information could be useful because you will not be able to directly compare multiple companies with each other.

Happy Trucking – John Carter

Truck Driver Pay – Basic

Pay Rates – Basic

Truck drivers, depending on the company, can be paid several different ways. In addition to the driver’s basic pay, drivers can be paid bonuses or for extra services. Different companies will use different combonations of basic pay and extra pay. Some payments are available only to company truck drivers and others are normally restricted to Owner/Operators. Some companies may make payments to both. It is important to understand the company’s complete pay program before you sign on. Understanding how, when, why and what you will be paid in advance will prevent you from feeling used and abused by your company.

Some of the basis calculations used to pay truck drivers are

  1. Per Mile – All,
  2. Per Mile – Loaded,
  3. Percentage of Load,
  4. hourly.
  5. The of course, there are ways to fine tune with in those general terms.

    Per Mile – All

    Some companies will pay drivers for all miles they drive for the company. It does not matter if the truck is loaded, unloaded or even Bob-tail (no trailer). This can be an important consideration depending on the number of unloaded miles the driver is working. All truck drivers will have a percentage of unloaded miles. Unless you are strictly running terminal to terminal and never empty, there will be unloaded miles. Every company has a different mix of loaded to unloaded miles. You may be unloaded short distances or even 100s of miles. It just depends on where your company can find loads. The driver may also be required to bob-tail (drive with no trailer) substantial distances after dropping a loaded trailer at one location and then having no empty trailers to use, must travel to a location to get one for the next load.

    Per Mile – Loaded

    Another common pay method used for truck drivers is to only pay loaded miles. Do not confuse loaded miles with miles pulling a trailer. If the truck is not moving freight for payment, then the trailer is unloaded and you are not paid for it. Do not automatically assume that being paid for loaded miles only is less pay then all miles. Companies that pay for all miles are basically under paying loaded miles to subsidized unloaded miles. Companies paying only loaded miles often (but not required) pay more base male rates. If working for a company that pays only loaded miles and the companies adds more customers, you could end up with few empty miles and be earning more total money.

    Percentage of Load fees

    This is especially common in Expediting or Fast Freight services, however it can occur in other trucking services such as bulk (gravel/sand), flat bed, heavy haul or specialized. Many times, the companies that are using a Load Percentage calculation do not pay empty (dead head or Bob-tail) miles. One reason for pay by percentage is that some loads will require more work and the drivers that accept the extra work are paid more then the driver that takes the easier load. For example, a HazMat load generally pays more for the same miles/weight/time as a non-HazMat load. The the driver has more responsibilities with HazMat. Thus more pay for the work.

    Used mainly for local deliver or union route jobs, hourly pay is the goal of some truck drivers because it is home nightly. Hourly positions are subject to not only Federal Hour of Service rules but also state work hour rules.

    Closing Comments

    Every company has different ways to operate, so check with every company you are considering driving for individually. Making a chart of the information may be useful because you will not be able to directly compare multiple companies with each other.

    Happy Trucking – John Carter