For decades now, the United States has been facing a severe trucker shortage due to the high turnover rate of drivers. While most people do not notice it with the rise of expedited shipping options, the lack of qualified truckers has had a major effect on United States roadways. Drivers are now pressured to take on more and more orders and push up against driving regulations. These actions can severely increase the likelihood of a catastrophic trucking accident.
How Is the Driver Shortage Affecting Trucking Companies?
Currently, there are approximately 60,000 more truck driver jobs than available drivers, according to a report by USA Today. This shortage is predicted to increase to 100,000 drivers in 2025 and 160,000 in 2028. As a result of this decline in drivers, trucking companies are desperate to hire qualified drivers and move their loads. Some are turning away business as they are unable to provide for their customers’ needs. Although trucking companies have increased driver pay to remain competitive, the number of drivers retiring is far higher than the number of new drivers coming on, and new drivers may not have adequate training and experience, leading to catastrophic delivery truck accidents.
The American Trucking Association (ATA) is pushing for regulators to lower the legal age from 21 to 18 for interstate commercial drivers, as reported by Bloomberg. Trucking companies have also shifted their recruitment strategies to employ younger drivers who may be fresh out of high school, women, and former military personnel. While it is natural for any industry to change its recruitment tactics and expand positions over time, changes to their hiring practices may only make matters worse for United States roadways.
How Could the Driver Shortage Affect Road Safety?
In order to maintain customer expectations and meet demands, especially with the economic impact of COVID-19 and Stay at Home Orders, trucking companies have begun to push against trucking regulations and make negligent decisions regarding how they handle their routes.
Hours of Service Violations
With the driver shortage becoming increasingly more severe, desperate trucking companies may encourage their drivers to cut back on rest hours, which is a violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) hours of service regulations. Violating these regulations has directly contributed to multiple trucking accidents across the country, including a highly publicized “toilet paper” crash in Texas where the driver fell asleep at the wheel. These rules are required to prevent against such events, which has become a major problem for the trucking industry.
To meet demands, trucking companies may overload their trailers beyond their rated capacities, which poses the following risks:
- Places undue stress on the truck’s brakes and tires
- Increases braking distance
- Reduces driver control in adverse weather conditions
- Increases the risk of jackknifing
- Increases the risk of a rollover
The aging pool of truck drivers is becoming more challenging to replace in the current labor market. As the driver shortage worsens, trucking companies may decide to take what they can get, such as drivers with minimal training who lack the experience needed to operate a fully-loaded 80,000 lb. commercial truck safely. It takes years of experience to properly control one of these vehicles over long distances while also fulfilling additional duties on the road, such as inspecting a truck or load for defects.
What Should You Do If a Trucker Causes a Crash?
If you are involved in a collision with a large commercial truck, your injuries may be very serious, catastrophic, or life-threatening. Truck accidents may require extensive medical treatment and time away from work, plus a great deal of pain and suffering. If the crash was caused by overloading, driver fatigue, driver inexperience, or other forms of trucking company or driver negligence, you have a right to pursue full monetary compensation for the damages you have suffered.
For your best chance of recovering full and fair compensation after a serious truck accident, you need to contact an experienced attorney with the knowledge, skills, and resources to handle your claim. After a trucking accident, the trucking company will definitely conduct their own investigation and call upon their lawyers to protect themselves from lawsuits. To ensure you receive the compensation you are owed, you must act quickly and call the Tenge Law Firm, LLC at (303) 665-2929. Our Boulder truck accident attorney can explain your options under the law in a free case consultation.