This year, former Newark mayor and current New Jersey Senator Cory Booker introduced legislation that he believes will make interstate trucking safer. The Truck Safety Act includes many proposals, including the additional use of technology and raising the minimum insurance each truck must carry from $750,000 to $1.5 million. The new technologies would be used to limit speeds and require crash avoidance systems. The law’s more interesting proposals, however, center around the way truck drivers are paid.
Why would pay show up in a law about safety? Because the current way most truck drivers are paid encourages speeding and drowsy driving. Booker proposes truck drivers should be paid for all hours worked. Currently, drivers are paid by the mile. This means they aren’t being paid when they are waiting for their truck to be loaded, when they are cleaning or inspecting their truck, or while they are sitting in traffic.
The current system encourages drivers to drive faster and work more hours. Any time spent sitting is unpaid and driving safely isn’t rewarded. This makes trucking more dangerous than it needs to be, because drivers work long hours and avoid sleeping. Although laws are in place to restrict the number of hours that drivers work and to impose mandatory rest periods, truck operators falsify driving logs to avoid these regulations. This is often done at the request or unofficial suggestion of a trucking company, who can then be held liable in case of a truck wreck.
The proposed system would treat drivers more like employees in other industries. Most people show up to work and get paid for the time they are there, regardless of how much work gets done or whether they face delays outside of the their own control. While the new system may still allow some mileage-based pay, it would ensure drivers are paid for all the time they work, thus reducing their need to cover large distances in order to be paid fairly.
Booker’s proposal also requires a study to be conducted on the effects of long commutes on trucker safety. The study would determine whether commuting hours to a trucking company’s facility and then driving the full daily limit afterwards causes drowsy driving. There is no current plan for dealing with this problem.
Seigel Law welcomes any legislative changes that will make New Jersey roads safer. Our firm represents truck accident victims throughout the state from our office in Bergen County. Our attorneys help injury victims get compensation for their pain and suffering as well as their medical costs. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced and skilled truck accident lawyer, call us at 201.444.4000 or contact us online.