Delivery Driver Guide: How Final Mile Directly Affects the Truck Driver Salary Per Hour

With last-mile delivery costs taking up a whopping 53% of total costs, according to Insider Intelligence, businesses are searching for innovative strategies to save on the final leg of the supply chain. However, many companies are cutting costs by cutting wages, letting the average truck driver’s salary per hour suffer on behalf of higher final mile delivery costs. 

Last year, FreightWaves reported that “43.6% of consumers want free two-day shipping, and nine out of 10 said on-time delivery is important.” With the demand for fast, reliable shipping at an all-time high, businesses must keep their drivers happy; otherwise, they could face catastrophic driver shortages that keep goods at the dock and tank the bottom line. 

The logistical debacle of last-mile delivery doesn’t need to result in a lower truck driver’s salary per hour. Recent innovations in last mile logistics help businesses make more efficient logistics decisions, keeping their drivers on the road and incentivizing them with a competitive truck driver salary per hour. These tech-enabled, on-demand logistics solutions provide businesses with the last-mile delivery solutions they want while offering drivers a fair, livable wage. By considering the ins and outs of truck driver pay, businesses and drivers alike can better understand how to drive their logistics into the future. 

What’s the Typical Truck Driver Salary Per Hour?

On average, a truck driver earns $48,310 a year. Broken down, the average truck driver’s salary per year results in a per hour rate of $23.23. However, truck drivers’ hourly wages can fluctuate dramatically depending on various factors. For example, an average box truck driver’s salary of $37,995 is likely significantly lower than a tanker truck driver’s salary, with an average salary of $78,726. This is due mainly to the additional training needed to safely operate a tanker truck and the average distance undertaken in a single shipment. Several other factors can affect truck driver pay.

  • Certifications. Depending on state and federal regulations, certain hazardous or oversized loads will require drivers with special training. Additional certifications can easily translate into higher wages.
  • Pay Types. Some businesses pay their drivers a fixed hourly wage, whereas others pay a fixed rate for a given load. A fixed hourly wage can result in a lower truck driver salary per hour, but long docking waits can force fixed-rate drivers to accept a lower average truck driver salary than their hourly counterparts. 
  • State and Federal Regulations. Depending on where a driver is based, payment can fluctuate based on state and federal wage requirements. A driver based in a state with a high minimum wage may see a higher truck driver salary per hour. In contrast, a driver based in a state with a low minimum wage will likely see a lower overall average truck driver salary.

Although fluctuations within industries, states, and nations can make it difficult to pinpoint a one-size-fits-all average truck driver salary, what’s clear is that truck driver pay is dependent on a broad range of factors. However, the one factor affecting truck driver pay across all industries is continued last-mile logistics complications. 

Poor Scheduling Lowers Truck Driver Pay

An often overlooked cause of lower truck driver pay is poorly handled scheduling. In the aftermath of COVID-19, an unruly supply chain has resulted in unprecedented logistical hurdles. These challenges often result in businesses playing catch-up, desperately re-routing deliveries to meet customer demand. This never-ending rush means that trucks can be poorly loaded or, on a larger scale, misallocated. Large, inefficient trucks can go out with small deliveries, or small, hybrid courier vehicles can be tasked with oversized loads. 

Regardless, a lack of operational visibility means that truck drivers spend less time on the road and more time waiting around for shipments to arrive; depending on payment type, this inefficiency can significantly impact truck drivers’ salary per hour. Though it can be daunting, businesses and drivers alike need to reexamine their scheduling strategies to achieve maximum logistical efficiency. 

Causes of Poor Scheduling 

Poor scheduling will impact a box truck driver’s salary differently than on a tanker truck driver’s salary. Still, regardless of what type of freight a driver carries, there are a few universal factors that affect scheduling, and therefore salaries, across all logistics industries. 

Understanding these factors can mean the difference between an inefficient, antiquated scheduling system and a fully-efficient, tech-enabled scheduling system that reflects the needs of businesses, drivers, and clients. By understanding these factors and how they affect truck driver salary per hour, companies can gain invaluable insights into their operations. 

    1. Outdated technology and tools. Antiquated scheduling systems require complicated paper trails and homemade management strategies. These old-fashioned scheduling strategies can result in delays and lost revenue, something no business can afford in today’s competitive logistics environment. Embracing a fully-integrated, tech-enabled management system can help companies to turn their scheduling woes into strengths. 
    2. Lack of real-time data and insights. Today’s logistics businesses require real-time data and insights to face real-world logistical crises. Features like asset tracking, intelligent allocation, and integrated TMS software can help companies to develop a holistic understanding of their operational costs and liberate owners to reallocate funds to underpaid drivers while avoiding last-mile problems
  • Poor communication and feedback. Good logistics rely upon good communication. However, with thousands of miles separating dispatch from drivers, it can be difficult for businesses to understand logistical crises at an on-the-road level. With cross-platform communication abilities and automated notifications, tech-enabled last-mile logistics solutions offer drivers the ability to communicate directly with shippers and clients, increasing efficiency and, simultaneously, truck driver pay.
  • Failure to utilize automated processes. While self-driving trucks aren’t quite ready for the ready, automation can still play an invaluable role in a business’s scheduling system. Companies that fail to utilize automated tools like delivery trackers, supply chain notifications, and intelligent allocation are missing out on the advantages of tech-enabled last-mile logistics platforms

How to Improve Scheduling of Trucks and Drivers

With a wide range of factors affecting truck drivers’ salaries per hour, businesses need to take advantage of every opportunity for greater efficiency in last-mile deliveries. Greater efficiency means truckers spend more time on the road rather than waiting for dispatch to handle scheduling issues after scheduling. Improved efficiency, however, requires improved scheduling. 

Once businesses understand the common roadblocks standing in the way of cost-effective, seamless scheduling, they can begin to consider a few easily-implemented scheduling strategies. These scheduling solutions can keep businesses in the clear, truckers well-paid, and deliveries on time.  

  • Keep all trucks well maintained. By keeping trucks ready for the road, businesses can respond quickly to meet delivery demands. That said, the maintenance costs for traditional parcel fleets can quickly dig into a business’s bottom line. Companies looking to reallocate funds toward truck driver pay should consider utilizing flexible, on-demand fleets to meet their logistics needs on time, every time. 
  • Eliminate unnecessary check or scheduling calls. Traditional scheduling requires lengthy email chains, paper trails, and phone calls. These manual systems can cost businesses valuable time and money. Automated scheduling and allocation assistance can provide the reliability of traditional scheduling without the hassle or expense. With automation in last-mile deliveries, scheduling first-rate logistics services is as easy as clicking a button. 
  • Avoid using actual paperwork; opt instead for digital BOL (Bill of Lading) and shipment documentation. Nobody likes a messy filing cabinet. Digital BOL and shipment documentation can be seamlessly and securely stored within a digital last-mile logistics platform, ensuring that drivers have instant access to any document they need, whenever they need it. With digital BOL and documentation, drivers can access the documents they need in the palm of their hand. 
  • Use an app to eliminate all confusion over ETA and pick-up plans. In the fast-paced world of post-COVID logistics, businesses need to be able to adapt without a hitch. Cross-platform last-mile logistics providers offer the ability to communicate instantly with drivers through an easy-to-use mobile interface, liberating companies and drivers alike to take on any logistical challenge anywhere while increasing truck driver salary per hour
  1. Route Optimization: Traffic, weather, any other expected delays…it’s pretty par for the course in the day to day deliveries and pickups a courier must make. Drivers now have at their disposal tools for route optimization so single drivers can do multi stops pickups and dropoffs, which reduces miles driven for all vehicles in the fleet and maximizes efficiency for drivers.

Customer Expectations for Delivery Services Complicate Final Mile Delivery

According to Accenture, “companies are looking to improve their operations by intelligently leveraging new technologies and processes to improve efficiencies and reduce delivery costs.” However, that amounts to understanding the rising customer expectations for the typical delivery experience. Businesses looking to compete with delivery giants must offer standout customer service. In today’s cut-throat logistics environment, companies must provide services that set them apart.

However, increased customer demand for fully-customizable, lightning-fast deliveries can leave drivers to contend with demanding customers, meaning more time off the road and, ultimately, a lower truck driver salary per hour

Understanding these demands allows businesses a glimpse into the complicated order delivery process. It can help them attract and keep the logistics professionals they need to keep their freight assets on the road. With intelligent last-mile delivery platforms, businesses can quickly adapt and accommodate the inevitable demanding customer whenever and wherever they arise. 

  • Installation of service or equipment. Increasingly, customers expect drivers to step out of the cab and perform specialized services, such as equipment installation. Often, this leaves logistics specialists trying to wear too many hats and lowers truck driver salary per hour. With automated freight allocation, businesses can ensure that drivers get assigned to shipments they can handle. Intelligent allocation enables companies to act as driver advocates and address difficulties before they arise. 
  • The expectation for faster delivery. With fast-delivery giants dominating the consumer logistics market, more customers expect shipments to arrive in the blink of an eye. According to FreightWaves, “43.6% of consumers want free two-day shipping…” This demand leaves drivers on the hook for less-than-lightning fast deliveries. However, tech-enabled last-mile logistics solutions can provide automated notifications to keep customers informed and drivers on track. 
  • Delivery areas that aren’t yet ready. Cluttered areas can present hassles to drivers and delivery personnel. Waiting for clients to organize an area equates to time off-road, meaning lower truck driver pay. Online last-mile logistics solutions help drivers avoid this recurring issue by constantly informing customers and ensuring that drivers arrive to find organized delivery areas ready for shipment. 
  • Haul-away of debris or old items. With more retailers than ever offering haul-away services, truck drivers are often left to contend with defunct goods. By partnering with a communication-focused last-mile logistics provider, businesses can invest in open channels of communication with customers and drivers alike, helping to avoid cumbersome surprises at delivery sites. 
  • Unavailable for delivery. Missed deliveries mean lost revenue. This one-two punch can tank a business’s bottom line and result in a lower a truck driver’s salary per hour. More often than not, missed deliveries are a result of poor communication. With last-mile logistics solutions, businesses and customers can closely track shipments at every step of the logistics process, helping customers and drivers avoid the hassle and expense of missed deliveries. 

Driver Rate and Pay Reflects Training, Certification, and Specialty Handling Needs

As a result of the ever-increasing customer demand for faster, more affordable shipping, the global market for last-mile delivery will likely balloon to more than 200 billion USD by 2027. This unprecedented increase, led by the online shopping boom, requires various logistics professionals to provide consumers with the goods they need. 

However, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all logistics. As more industries strive to provide affordable, efficient, and lightning-fast delivery while maintaining a competitive truck driver salary per hour, drivers will be tasked with carrying a wider range of goods. An expanding range of freight means businesses will increasingly rely on drivers to carry specialized cargo, such as oversized, hazardous, and temperature-sensitive materials.

To meet these specialized demands, drivers will increasingly need to receive additional training and certifications beyond traditional CDL licenses.

Businesses seeking to attract and maintain drivers should ensure that their pay scale reflects the additional investment a driver has put into training and certification over their career. However, paying these drivers the wage they deserve can leave businesses coming up short on their bottom line. By partnering with an intelligent, tech-enabled last-mile technology provider, companies can access an ever-expanding pool of qualified logistics professionals to handle their last-mile logistics without the overhead and expense of traditional fleet maintenance. With intelligent last-mile delivery solutions, drivers can receive a truck driver salary per hour that reflects their expertise, and businesses can maintain their bottom line. 

Discover the Difference Industry Insights and Innovation Can Make and Partner With OneRail Today

Final-mile delivery challenges are driving up costs and truck drivers pay down. With OneRail, a tech-enabled, fully-integrated final mile delivery solution, businesses can offer drivers a competitive truck driver salary per hour while fighting the final mile. OneRail offers businesses the intelligent allocation, delivery tracking, and data analytics your business needs to stay competitive in today’s logistics marketplace and tomorrow’s, all on a single, cross-platform API. Schedule a demo with OneRail today, and see what the future of logistics can offer your business.

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