Why Do Long Distance Truck Drivers Work Extremely Long Hours?
Forthcoming, Economic and Labour Relations Review
36 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2017 Last revised: 8 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 1, 2017
We estimate the labor supply curve for long-haul truck drivers in the United States, applying ordinary least squares regression to a survey of truck drivers in the United States. We start with the standard model of the labor supply curve and then develop two novel extensions of the standard model, incorporating pay level and pay method, testing the target earnings hypothesis. We distinguish between long-haul and short-haul jobs driving commercial motor vehicles. Truck and bus drivers choose between long-distance jobs requiring very long hours of work away from home and short-distance jobs generally requiring fewer hours. The labor supply curve exhibits a classic backward bending shape reflecting drivers' preference to work until they reach target earnings. Above target earnings, at a "safe rate" for truck drivers, they trade labor for leisure; they work fewer hours, leading to greater highway safety. While other research has shown that higher paid truck and bus drivers are safer, this is the first study showing why higher paid drivers are safer. Drivers work fewer hours at a higher pay rate and likely have less fatigue. Pay rates also have implications for driver health because worker health deteriorates as working time exceeds 40 hours.
Keywords: Labor Supply Curve, Long Distance Truck Drivers, Working Hours, Pay Rates, Pay Methods, Piece Rates, Compensation, Truck Driver Safety, Labor/Leisure Tradeoff, Labor Markets
JEL Classification: J22, J31, J33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation