The National Transportation Institute has released data which claims that driver pay is rising quickly. In fact, according to an NTI analyst, 2018 was the strongest year for driver pay increases ever.

A total of 519 private and for-hire fleets responded to a recent NTI survey. It’s not an enormous sample size, but still significant. Gordon Klemp, an analyst with NTI, spoke with Overdrive about the results. Klemp estimates that by the end of the year, driver pay will have increased by as much as 11.5% in 2018 alone. That would make it the single highest percentage increase in driver pay ever.

Average driver pay is increasing for both new and experienced drivers.

As the capacity crunch increases, fleets are paying more and more to keep their current drivers happy and attract other drivers from carriers whose pay is falling behind. Sign-on bonuses are up, as are benefits. Experienced company drivers at top fleets can expect to make between $70,000 to $80,000 a year.

Klemp does note however that pay rates for new drivers aren’t anywhere close to those numbers. Still, companies are raising mileage pay even for new drivers.

According to Klemp, driver pay will continue to rise until companies pay enough to attract people to the industry who wouldn’t consider trucking as a career otherwise. That will likely take years.

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