Does Paying Truck Drivers by The Mile Lead to More Accidents?

by Staff Blogger | January 19th, 2023

The trucking industry lacks enough drivers. This may be detrimental to the US economy since the trucking industry accounts for 67% of US total freight by weight. There are 3.5 million commercially licensed truck drivers, but only 2.6 million are on the road. The difference in these figures primarily lies in how drivers are being paid. 

Nowadays, freight companies usually pay truck drivers by the mile and not by the hour. This encourages truck drivers to spend more time behind the wheel or engage in speeding in order to earn more money. It also has the effect of putting truck drivers and others on the roads at greater risk of being involved in a truck accident.

Truck accidents often result in serious injuries and huge financial losses. If you or someone you care about was injured in a truck accident in Sacramento, hire a Sacramento truck accident lawyer to assist you with getting compensation for your injuries and financial losses.

Read on to learn how an experienced personal injury lawyer who specializes in truck accident claims can help. 

What Does it Mean to Pay a Truck Driver by the Mile? 

Paying a truck driver by the mile means that the driver is paid according to the miles traveled in their job. The rate of pay varies according to experience, the region, and the company the driver works for. Most trucking companies pay between $0.28 to $0.40 per mile, but drivers hauling sensitive materials are paid at a higher rate. 

Why Is Paying a Truck Driver by the Mile a Problem?

By far the biggest problem with paying a truck driver by the mile is that it encourages the driver to drive as far as they can in the shortest time possible. To maximize their earnings, drivers might be tempted to speed or continue to drive even after they are fatigued.

This reckless behavior puts the truck driver and others on the road at risk of serious injury. Some of the most dangerous consequences of speeding and fatigued driving are as follows:


  • Greater likelihood of losing control of the vehicle;
  • More stopping distance needed in an emergency; and
  • Greater likelihood of severe injuries and death if an accident occurs;

Fatigued driving

  • Greater likelihood of falling asleep at the wheel; 
  • Dulled reflexes;
  • Tunnel vision; and
  • Poor decision-making

Why Trucking Companies are Reluctant to Change their Business Model 

Paying truck drivers by the mile is not necessarily the best paying model for trucking companies. However, because of labor requirements, these companies cannot easily adopt a different payment structure.

Paying truck drivers by the mile goes back to 1939 when the Minimum Wage Law or Fair Labor Standard Act was passed. President Frederick. D. Roosevelt passed this law during the great depression to protect laborers from overexploitation. However, he exempted the trucking industry from this requirement and mandated the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to oversee truck drivers’ payment structure. 

In 1980, the ICC was stripped of its authority over the trucking industry when Congress passed the Motor Carrier Act. Even with this new law, Congress did not remove the exemption on the Minimum Wage Act, resulting in a piecework rate of pay where drivers are paid for the distance they drive or business they produce. 

Truck Accident Statistics 

Paying a truck driver by the mile contributes to the nation’s truck accident statistics by encouraging truck drivers to engage in reckless driving behaviors like speeding, tailgating, reckless overtaking, and other behavior that increases the possibility of a truck accident. 

Here are some notable truck accident statistics: 

  • Approximately 130,000 people are injured by truck accidents annually. 
  • Roughly 4,000 people die from truck accidents every year. 
  • 4% of fatal truck accidents involve trucks carrying hazardous cargo 
  • According to driving tests statistics, speeding contributes to 14% of light-truck fatalities and 7% of large-truck fatalities. 
  • According to FMCSA truck accident statistics for 2020, 54% of all fatal crashes associated with large trucks occurred in rural areas, 27% on interstate highways, and 13% on rural interstate highways. 

Compensation for Truck Accident Injuries

To recover compensation after a truck accident in Sacramento, you and your truck accident lawyer need to prove the following:

  • The truck driver owed you a duty of care; 
  • The truck driver breached their duty of care;  
  • The truck driver’s breach caused you to sustain injuries; and 
  • You incurred actual damages or financial losses due to the injuries you sustained 

With the aid of a skilled truck accident lawyer, Sacramento residents injured in a truck accident are better able to satisfy these requirements and recover the compensation they need and deserve. On the other hand, those who pursue truck accident claims without the assistance of a qualified attorney, often find themselves getting less than what they deserve or nothing at all.  

Types of Compensation You Can Get After a Truck Accident 

There are essentially three types of damages that may be recovered in a truck accident:

Economic Damages 

Losses to which an accident victim can assign an actual dollar amount. These include all expenses incurred due to injuries sustained in the truck accident, such as: 

  • Past and future medical bills;
    • Past and future lost wages, income, and benefits
    • Damage to your vehicle
    • Other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident and your injuries 

Non Economic Damages

Intangible losses that are not easy to assign a dollar amount, such as:

  • Pain and suffering
    • Loss of consortium 
    • Compensation for scarring and disfigurement

Your Sacramento truck accident lawyer may enlist the help of experts to assist with assessing all of your damages and calculating how much you need to be fully compensated.

Punitive Damages 

A court may award you punitive damages if the liable truck driver willfully and willingly disregarded safety laws or exhibited particularly egregious behavior. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the wrongdoer and to deter others from engaging in similar behavior. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help you determine if your truck accident case warrants punitive damages.

Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accidents 

What Should You Do Immediately After a Truck Accident? 

There are several important things you need to do immediately after a Sacramento truck accident for your health and wellbeing and to preserve evidence: 

  • Call 911;
  • Seek medical attention; 
  • Take pictures of the accident scene; 
  • Exchange information with the truck driver;
  • Talk to the witnesses about what they saw and ask for their contact information; and 
  • Contact a truck accident lawyer in Sacramento 

What Parties May Be at Fault for a Truck Accident? 

In addition to the driver, the following parties may also be at fault in a truck accident: 

  • The trucking company;
  • The truck’s manufacturer;
  • The truck maintenance company;
  • The loader;
  • The shipper; and
  • Other third parties

Your Sacramento truck accident lawyer can assess the circumstances involved in your truck accident and attempt to identify every party that may be held liable. 

How Do You Choose a Truck Accident Lawyer? 

There are specific qualities you need to look for when choosing a lawyer for a Sacramento truck accident case, specifically:

  • Experience handling truck accident claims in Sacramento; 
  • Willingness to work aggressively towards a settlement;
  • The ability to communicate with you effectively;
  • Transparent fees; 
  • Impressive client testimonials and reviews; and
  • Whether you and the lawyer are compatible 

Is There Any Cap on Damages for a Truck Accident Claim in California? 

No. California has not established any cap on damages recovered for any personal injury case, including truck accident claims. This applies to all three types of damages, economic, non-economic, and punitive. 

Contact a Sacramento Truck Accident Lawyer

Truck accidents can be devastating. Victims often suffer fatal injuries and incur huge financial losses. If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident in Sacramento, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. At Berg Injury Lawyers, we are ready to help you seek what you are rightfully owed. 

We have been fighting for injury victims for more than 40 years. We offer a free consultation to every potential client and charge no legal fee unless we win your case. Contact us today and let us give you the peace of mind you need as you recover from your injuries.