Trucking Vital to US Economy
There is no doubt that the trucking industry is the lifeblood of our American economy. The proof is in the pudding, with over 70% of all freight transported throughout the United States arriving on big rigs. Tractor-trailers haul more than 10.5 billion tons of goods and freight each year.
The United States has over 11 million big rigs registered in the United States which is an increase of 3% over the prior year. One-half of all commercial truck drivers are hauling freight interstate and 15% or so intrastate.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, commercial truck drivers were cited over 320,000 times for violation related to duty status during roadside inspections. Fudging the duty status or failing to keep accurate logs is one of the most common safety violations by truck drivers. Additionally, the FMCSA indicates there were over 136,000 hours of service violations where truck drivers drove when they were prohibited from doing so by the safety regulations.
Shortage of Qualified Drivers
While the lack of truck drivers has been consistent at about 30,000 drivers over the last several years, industry analysts suspect that the driver shortage will reach between 50,000 to 100,000 per year. There are several reasons for the driver shortage one of them being the age of the existing drivers set at about 50 and younger drivers not finding the profession that attractive.
Turnover has been a big problem for the motor carrier as drivers find other vocations that may provide a better environment for time with the family. Trucking companies have struggled to find enough qualified drivers and are forced to accept a driver who may not be as professional and safe as the motor carrier would prefer. All one has to do is turn on the radio to hear many ads from trucking companies seeking drivers to understand the depth of the truck driver shortage.
Retiring truck drivers who are not easily replaced is probably the single largest factor in the shortage of drivers.
Many motor carriers are offering substantial incentives for the best truck drivers. Some of the bigger trucking companies in America boosted pay by $5000-$10,000 a year for some of the best drivers. The competition for highly qualified and safe drivers has never been fiercer.
Big Rig Crashes
Last year there were over 475,000 large trucks and buses involved in accidents. There is a direct correlation to the experience of a truck driver and the potential for a serious truck wreck. It is just common sense that the more experience a driver has behind the wheel with a tractor-trailer, the less likely the driver is to be unprepared on the roadway.
The number of injury crashes from big rigs as increased by over 55% from 2004 two 2014 according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Inexperienced drivers and new drivers are clearly the most dangerous truckers on the highways. Many truck drivers quit the profession after they have been in us very serious truck accident where someone else was seriously injured or killed. Controlling an 80,000-pound vehicle requires more than a commercial driver’s license and minimum safety training by a company.
Solutions to the Driver Shortage
There certainly has been a sustained increase in the freight shipped in the United States and the need for qualified truck drivers. One of the biggest problems besides the age of the drivers is the inability to attract younger drivers to stay in the profession.
Trucking companies are offering financial incentives. However, the increased pay and sign-on bonuses are insufficient to deal with the magnitude of the driver shortage. Increased flexibility and home time for drivers is a big factor in the satisfaction in the profession. There is no doubt that trucking can be a difficult lifestyle for families.
Technology advances will help trucking companies become more flexible with their drivers as long as the companies are willing to invest resources into the technology. Recent rule changes requiring electronic logging are a step in the right direction for motor carriers to embrace technology to reduce costs and improve safety.
Better communications are also proven to reduce aggravation for drivers and also improve on-time delivery.
In the United States, we face a serious truck driver shortage which has the effect of forcing Motor Carriers to hire lesser qualified drivers to fill positions. The shortage of qualified drivers is predicted to increase substantially shortly. Trucking companies are taking steps to attract higher quality drivers, but the problem for the industry remains a lack of drivers.
A correlation exists between the age, experience, and training of the truck driver and the likelihood of an accident. A new driver is much more likely to be involved in an unnecessary crash than an experienced driver.
Visit our The Woodlands, Conroe attorney for truck accident page.