A recent report from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) called the Truck Driver Shortage Analysis 2019 found that the driver shortage had reached over 50,000 in 2017, and was short almost 61,000 drivers by 2018.
The truck driver shortage could carriers to rely on less qualified drivers to move important cargo, which would result in commercial vehicles being operated by people with bad driving records or very little experience.
If you have been harmed by a careless truck driver in East Tennessee, contact The Terry Law Firm now to find out how we can help you seek compensation. The claim review is free and comes without any further obligation on your part.
Causes of the Truck Driver Shortage
No single factor is to blame for the current shortage of qualified truck drivers, but one troubling trend is that many truck drivers are older. As these operators begin to reach retirement age, there does not appear to be a comparable number of younger drivers to fill their spots.
This might be attributed to a simple lack of appeal of the job, which often involves being away from home for long periods of time. Couple this with the fact that truck drivers’ wages have remained fairly stagnant in recent years, and factor in changing demographics, and some reasons begin to become clear.
Another element affecting the numbers of active, available truck drivers is ongoing regulatory issues. Certain regulations – regarding what is known as Hours of Service – govern how long truck drivers can work without a break. Federal guidelines limit how long a truck driver can be behind the wheel in a given 24-hour period. This is done for the sake of the safety of the trucker, as well as every other motorist on the road. In practical terms, this means that federal law prohibits trucking companies to permit their operators to drive for unlimited, unmonitored lengths of time.
Negative Effects of Trucker Shortage
Some unscrupulous trucking companies may encourage or even force drivers to violate Hours of Service rules. The major consequence of that is driver fatigue. A driver attempting to operate a commercial truck while overly exhausted significantly increases the likelihood of causing an accident.
A driver shortage means that trucking companies are often pushed to rely on less experienced drivers to operate their fleet. Drivers who are new to commercial trucks may be far more likely to make basic errors in their operation of these vehicles, many of which can cause serious accidents.
A driver shortage can also impact the maintenance of commercial trucks, as in-demand vehicles stay out on the road longer, and therefore may not receive the mechanical maintenance necessary to ensure their safe operation. This is a concern for every other driver on the highway, since failure to maintain vehicles is a leading cause of truck crashes.
Increased Risk for Accidents
With fewer young people applying for truck driving positions, many companies may allow people to drive despite very serious marks on their driving records. For example, repeat DUI convictions or multiple at-fault crashes usually bar people from operating commercial vehicles, but some individuals may be able to get truck driving jobs with less ethical carriers, even with such serious problems in their driving history.
Hours of Service violations are also becoming increasingly common, with many trucking companies pushing drivers to falsify records of their rest periods in order to complete urgent deliveries. Truck drivers who are not operating with proper rest time may be more likely to doze off behind the wheel, leading to an increased risk of fatal accidents.
With fewer young drivers stepping up to take their place, older drivers may stay on the road for years after they would have preferred to retire. Older truckers may pose a safety hazard as reaction times, vision, and other capacities decrease with age.
Truck Driver Shortage Solutions
In a March 2019 Monthly Labor Review, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that “the market for truck drivers appears to work as well as any other blue-collar labor market,” and declared that there was no reason to doubt that the industry would attract people if companies were simply willing to increase drivers’ pay. The BLS concluded that “the overall picture is consistent with a market in which labor supply responds to increasing labor demand.”
During the driver shortage, it is important that trucking companies satisfy federal regulations by maintaining the highest standards for hiring. Carriers also need to invest in resources that will provide drivers with skills beyond basic safety training.
Trucking companies need to actively combat driver fatigue and should encourage truck drivers to take their health seriously. Drivers should communicate their needs on the road to their employers, so they are better able to get the kind of assistance they need.
When trucking companies invest in the happiness of their employees, it will lower the turnover rate in the industry. Furthermore, a company with satisfied employees can be a boon to recruitment of new talent.
Contact The Terry Law Firm If You Were Hurt in a Truck Accident
Did you sustain serious injuries or was a loved one killed in a commercial truck accident? You deserve to know what role the ongoing driver shortage might have played in your accident. The Terry Law Firm can get you answers and help you seek compensation for your losses.
Our firm will fight for a fair and full settlement on your behalf, and we will not be afraid to file a lawsuit if necessary to seek justice for you. Our firm is based in Morristown, Tennessee, and we serve clients across the country. We can assess all of your legal options as soon as you call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.