Reconciling Alternative Theories for the Safety of Owner–Operators

There are conflicting views as to whether motor carriers using owner-operators are more or less safe compared to carriers using employee drivers. This study develops a coherent theory to reconcile alternative theoretical predictions by merging sociological rational choice theory (SRCT) and theory regarding motor carrier safety. Principles from SCRT are used to determine why owner-operator status alters truck drivers’ benefits and constraints in committing unsafe acts. In particular, owner-operators have incentive to operate unsafely and face fewer constraints for doing so. This leads to the prediction that motor carriers with a higher percentage of owner-operators will have worse performance as tracked across Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) safety categories. Empirical testing was conducted by fitting a series of seemingly unrelated regression models to a vector of FMCSA safety measures. The empirical results are consistent with the prediction. The managerial and policy implications include: 1) Carriers making greater use of owner-operators should be cognizant of these drivers’ propensity to be cited for safety violations and should take that into account when selecting and managing drivers. 2) Regulators need to allocate adequate resources toward monitoring and auditing carriers that make greater use of owner-operators.


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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01683517
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 10 2018 4:53PM