How the Truck Driver Shortage Affects Trucking Accident Rates

Truck driving is a difficult profession requiring exceptional driving skills, judgment, level-headedness, independence, and stamina. Passing the CDL test alone doesn't mean that one possesses the above qualities that mark a true professional. Only years of experience will do that. Semi-trucks are huge, top-heavy, and unwieldy vehicles that are difficult to drive even when road conditions are good. During bad weather and especially in the winter, avoiding trucking accidents requires much concentration and skill from the driver.

Other factors that make truck driving difficult are:

  • Pay is based on mileage. Truck drivers are commonly paid by the mile rather than by the hour. This means they aren't making money in stalled out traffic, during mechanical breakdowns, and when loading or unloading trailers. At the same time, they're under pressure to meet delivery schedules and under economic pressure to make a living.
  • Grueling mileage requirements. Long-haul truckers must drive between 2,000 to 3,000 miles per week in all weather and traffic conditions.
  • Difficult family life. Their long routes take them far from home, which means they spend much of their time away from their families.
  • Strict government regulations. Federal regulations limit the number of continuous hours on the road in order to ensure that truckers get sufficient rest. This increases the pressure to meet schedules because they can't drive longer to make up for slow traffic conditions.

The Safety Implications of the Truck Driver Shortage

An increased demand for trucking services accompanied by the retirement of much of its workforce have produced the current truck driver shortage. The problem is further exacerbated by the high turnover rate of new hires. Although many people are attracted to the low barrier to entry of this profession, they quickly learn that the work isn't for them when they encounter the previously discussed difficulties. An increasing number of truck drivers on the road are inexperienced, and the high turnover rate perpetuates the problem because few truck drivers remain long enough to gain sufficient experience and proficiency.

What this means for the average motorist is that they're sharing the road with increasing numbers of inexperienced truck drivers who must carry larger loads to make up for the driver shortage and are simultaneously facing the intense pressures described above.

Some truckers will resort to speeding and aggressive driving to meet the required mileage and the federal regulations limiting their driving hours. Others will violate the federal regulations, which will fill the roads with fatigued and inexperienced truck drivers. In addition, most of these new truckers will be in their early twenties. This age group has a higher accident rate than the rest of the older population.

This is a dangerous time for motorists because there's an elevated risk of getting into a trucking accident. If such an accident injures you or someone close to you, contact us today. Odegaard Braukmann Law has extensive experience with trucking accident cases and can help you receive proper compensation.

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