Research Project

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Impact of Driver Compensation on Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety


To examine the relationship between driver compensation (i.e., pay by the mile or hour) and safety.


The most widely-used system for paying commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers in the nation is to "pay per mile" (i.e., drivers receive a set amount of money for each mile driven). "Pay per load" is also used in certain commercial vehicle operations. An unintended safety consequence of the pay-per-mile system is that it may reward drivers for speeding and for driving excessive miles. This payment approach may inadvertently provide an incentive to drivers to violate speeding (and other traffic) laws and hours-of service (HOS) regulations.


This study will survey carriers to determine how they compensate their drivers and what impact their compensation package has on safety. The large-scale study will involve linking information from the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) with the survey responses. The data will be used to characterize the industry practices with respect to driver compensation and determine its effect on safety.

To explore the relationship between driver compensation and safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will work with other Federal agencies and the National Transportation Research Board (TRB) to assess the safety implications of commercial driver compensation methods and their exemption from overtime pay requirements in the Fair Labor Standards Act. The study will examine the process by which changes to the current system could be made.
Outcomes A report that determines the effect of driver compensation on safety.


September 2012: The contract was awarded.
September 2015: project completion.


FY 2010: $400,000 - FMCSA Research and Technology
FY 2011: $400,000 - FMCSA Research and Technology


The peer review meeting was held in June 2013.


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Updated: Tuesday, December 16, 2014