There is no doubt that the United States faces a huge shortage of truck drivers. Some attribute the shortage to an aging workforce and others feel that the lifestyle has precluded many people from working as a truck driver. Motor Carriers are struggling to find qualified drivers and the competition is fierce to attract good drivers and keep them on the job.
According to the ATA, in 2014 we were short over 38,000 drivers which was expected to hit 48,000 by the end of last year. Current projections indicate that by 2024 we may be short hundred and 175,000 drivers in the United States. While these projections are speculative, there is no doubt there is an acute shortage of drivers available for trucking companies.
Anyone listening to the radio will hear ads by carriers seeking to pay bonuses and other incentives to attract drivers from other companies. Recruiters for trucking companies indicate a severe shortage of qualified drivers making the pay scale increase and unfortunately the competency of drivers on the roadway decreasing.
Because trucking companies cannot attract and retain enough qualified drivers they are forced to take truck drivers who lack real experience and while complying with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, the truth of the matter is that many are just not safe. It is a lack of experience, that is the biggest single factor in many truck accidents. The number of newly licensed commercial drivers who are involved in accidents simply because they were inexperienced is astounding.
The ATA further indicates that there are 3.4 million truck drivers currently in the United States. While there are over 10 million people who hold commercial drivers’ licenses most are not active as a commercial driver. To View the ATA article about truck driver shortage click here.
Turnover rates are also uncharacteristically high mainly because of the incentives offered by companies to attract qualified drivers. Taking one qualified driver away from company A to work for company B, often forces company A to fill the spot with whatever they can find. The good news for truck drivers is that the pay has increased steadily as the shortage of drivers has progressed.
Is in our Houston 18 wheeler accident practice, we are seeing more and more crashes that involve newly licensed drivers who simply lacked the appropriate amount of experience to safely operate their trucks. It is noteworthy that the trucking regulations provide for a minimum level of training that is allowable and experience proves that the minimum in it itself is not enough. Hundreds of truck accidents across our nation happen every year simply because the truck driver did not have adequate experience in driving an 80,000-pound vehicle.
Unfortunately for many victims and their families, it is only after the crash that the truck driver understands their deficiency and changes careers. As long as there continues to be a shortage of truck drivers there will continue to be an increase in unnecessary truck accidents.