Over the past few years, the commercial trucking industry has faced a number of challenges, including a shortage of skilled drivers. Many industry observers, truck accident lawyers included, feel that this shortage could be attributing to the increasing number of accidents involving heavy trucks. Like many other issues surrounding the commercial carrier industry as well as the effort to reduce truck accidents, the concern over driver numbers is equally complicated.
Too Few Drivers
According to the American Trucking Association, 2015 saw a shortage of nearly 50,000 commercial truck drivers, something that has affected the entire industry in recent years. The reasons for this shortage are numerous. Industry experts suggest that as older operators are retiring, not enough new and younger drivers are replacing them.
This is partially because the trucking industry refuses to advance toward improving salaries, schedules, pay methods, and other work conditions. Many experienced operators are also leaving for more fair work conditions, claiming that the refusal to take on actual employees and leaving drivers as contractors increases costs and robs them of needed benefits and important legal protection.
In addition, truck accident lawyers know that others are leaving the job due to the numerous health concerns longtime drivers face. Commercial drivers are one of the most unhealthy employment groups because of the long hours they spend seated, their demanding work schedules, and the constant fatigue of the job. What was once revered as a great job is now seen by many as one to avoid. As current drivers continue to leave the field, this has made it harder to attract drivers, especially new drivers with sufficient training.
Truck Accidents - Are Drivers Working Too Many Hours?
Many drivers and experts alike believe the answer to this question is a resounding "yes." Based on current conditions, there is much more work available than there are operators to handle it. This has created pressure for companies and operators to somehow continue to meet these demands. The results have been increased incidences of operators pushing their physical limits to drive while fatigued and work more hours than legally allowed.
Fatigue and driving too many hours are the main contributors to many truck accidents. The current pay-by-the-mile standard, which has contributed to operator dissatisfaction, adds to the pressure to work more hours, even when a break may be necessary.
Truck Accidents - Too Many Inexperienced Drivers?
The demand for drivers has created another situation in which operators without sufficient training or experience are becoming more prevalent, as the rush to qualify applicants increases. Without proper training and experience, truck accident lawyers, many operators, and other industry professionals stress that unskilled drivers are a danger to everyone on the highways.
Anyone can get a commercial license after as few as three weeks of on-the-road training. So companies find themselves in the position where they need to hire anyone who qualifies as opposed to those who have been through more extensive training. Lack of training has also been proven to be another common cause of deadly truck accidents.
Truck accidents happen for many reasons. Due to the after-effects attributed to the current shortage of skilled commercial drivers, it seems the industry as a whole must reevaluate its position and find a suitable remedy. It isn't clear whether this means instituting stricter federal training requirements or finding ways to make the job more desirable to current and future drivers. Truck accident lawyers agree that something must be done to improve the job overall, as attracting and retaining the best drivers must be the priority!
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190