Flatbed trucking company Maverick Transportation is raising truck driver pay as it purchases new trucks and expands capacity to meet growing freight demand.
The Little Rock, Ark.-based motor carrier said it will raise starting pay for flatbed drivers to 42 to 43 cents per mile April 1 and increase incentive pay as well.
“Everyone in our industry knows that professional drivers need, and more importantly, deserve higher pay,” said Chairman and CEO Steve Williams. “We decided to move fast in 2012 in order to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to offer the best compensation plan and the best driving job in the industry.”
Trucking companies, especially long-haul truckload carriers, are entering what’s expected to be a fierce battle to hire truck drivers as freight demand rises. U.S. freight shipments hit a seven-year high point in December, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, increasing 3.9 percent from November.
Overall, shipment volumes across all modes rose 6.4 percent in 2011, according to BTS. Trucking companies reported steady demand in the last quarter. Trucking industry hiring rose 4.1 percent year-over-year in January, according to preliminary seasonally adjusted figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Many consultants and trucking executives say higher pay is needed to attract more truck drivers to the industry and to hold onto experienced truck drivers. In a recent survey, 65 percent of trucking executives told Transport Capital Partners that driver pay would have to rise above $60,000 a year, a significant increase.
The average pay for a tractor-trailer driver in 2010 was $39,450, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only 25 percent made more than $47,000 a year. The average driver turnover rate hit 89 percent at large truckload carriers in the third quarter, according to the American Trucking Associations.
Maverick, which operates about 1,200 tractors, will offer “longevity” incentives and other bonuses aimed at keeping its drivers from jumping to another company. The carrier will also put 350 new trucks into service in the first quarter, all Freightliner Cascadia tractors equipped with the latest safety technology.
The first 190 trucks will replace older units, while the remaining 160 trucks will build up capacity for Maverick as it expands its business and service offerings.