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Is America’s Trucker Shortage Affecting Roadway Safety?

Is America’s Trucker Shortage Affecting Roadway Safety?

When we see semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, and big rig trucks, we often think to ourselves,

“These things are everywhere! Get out of the way, you’re taking up too much space on the road!”

While it may seem like big rigs are everywhere, the truth is, the trucking industry is facing one of the largest shortages they have ever witnessed. According to Bob Costello, the SVP or the American Trucking Association, the shortage may grow as large as 175,000 by 2026 if more individuals don’t choose to join the field.

As someone who isn’t a trucker, you may be wondering what impact this may have on you. The most prevalent issue with a lack of truckers comes from a consumer standpoint. The fewer truckers on the road the slower the delivery times, resulting in a high-demand with a low-supply.

However, the negative impacts go much further than a simple increase in the price of goods. The real problem that the trucking shortage causes is the increase in trucking accidents.

Why the Shortage?

According to some experts, there are many reasons for America’s trucking shortage. Some of the most commonly seen reasons include:

  • An aging workforce - The earliest trucking industry positions date back to the 20th century. Many of those in the industry now are getting ready to retire due to their age, and this will leave a lot of gaps needing to be filled.

  • High turnover rates - Trucking isn’t a position that just anyone can do. The long-time away from home, tedious hours spent driving, and limited living conditions takes a special individual to be able to handle the job. Many people often get into the industry due to the money that can be made, only to soon find out they are unable to commit to the lifestyle necessary.

  • Safety - According to USA Today, trucking is the 7th most dangerous profession in the US. Because of the dangers associated with the position due to long hours and continuous stress, many are choosing to take another career path.

To combat the shortage, many trucking companies are raising their wages and offering large signing bonuses to get new truckers into the industry.

The Impact on Road Safety

Because of the high demand for truckers, many companies are having to adjust their hiring to meet the demand for their services. This lack of commercial drivers really comes down to two huge negative consequences, excessive strain on current workers and the lowering of hiring standards. Both of these impact everyone on the road, in major ways.

Excessive Strain on Current Truckers

With the demand being so high, current trucking companies are having to make adjustments to stay relevant. The biggest adjustment most companies are doing is “allowing” their drivers to work additional hours. When we say “allowing,” we really mean forcing. With fewer drivers and the same demand, many truckers are forced to push themselves past the breaking point to get deliveries to their destinations on time, which causes drivers to drive while fatigued. The link between trucking accidents and driver fatigue is no new finding and is, in fact, similar to driving under the influence.

Lower Hiring Standards

With the high demand for truckers and little to no qualified candidates, many companies are being forced to lower their hiring standards. With lower standards, there is more room for error when speaking of hiring qualified candidates. Things like a DUI, or a poor driving record or limiting health conditions on the applicant's record are usually grounds for disqualification for the position. However, with the shortage, some companies may overlook these disqualifications and hire the applicant anyways. This leads to unqualified drivers on the road, handling the largest and most dangerous vehicles on the road, which may lead to an increase in catastrophic accidents.

The Soileau Law Firm Is Here to Help

Trucking safety laws are in place to ensure the safety of the trucker and all others on the road. With the current situation that the trucking industry faces, it is likely for companies to try to bend the rules and get away with things they may not normally be able to—such as allowing their workers to work excessive hours or hiring someone unqualified.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident involving a trucking driver, you are more than likely aware of the toll it can take on everyone involved. Don’t let the negligence of others change the way you live your life. At The Soileau Law Firm, our team of staunch Pasadena trucking accident attorneys has been helping those injured pursue the compensation they deserve to help rebuild their lives for decades.

Call us today at (713) 581-9042 to discuss your case over a free consultation.

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