Over the last five years, the trucking industry in the United States has experienced a massive shortage in the number of truck drivers. Since 2012, the truck driver turnover rate at the nation’s largest trucking companies has hovered above 90%. Currently, the industry is facing a shortage of about 35,000-40,000 drivers according to an economist with the American Trucking Association. Executives within the trucking industry warn that the problem may actually get worse before it gets better.
Impact of Driver Shortage On Trucking Accidents
The truck driver shortage has a clear and immediate impact on the trucking industry and its ability to transport goods across the country; however, the trucking industry is not the only party that should be concerned.
A prolonged shortage of truck drivers has the potential to negatively impact all Americans who use the national highway system. Sharing the roads with large commercial trucks already presents enough danger to passenger vehicles; the truck driver shortage could exacerbate those dangers and lead to even more accidents.
Driver inexperience / Lack of Training
The high turnover rate in the trucking industry means that experienced drivers need to be replaced at higher rates than normal. In most cases, their replacements are either first-time truck drivers or drivers with very little experience. That inexperience combined with lower training levels puts them at a much greater risk of causing an accident.
Trucking companies that are unable to add the necessary number of truck drivers look to make up for the shortage by asking the drivers they have on staff to work longer hours – sometimes more hours than is legal under federal regulations. Pushing drivers to work longer hours leads to driver fatigue – one of the leading causes of truck accidents.
Lower Hiring Standards
While federal regulations set a minimum requirement for obtaining a commercial driver’s license, many trucking companies have hiring standards that go above and beyond the federal minimum. During a prolonged driver shortage, companies may be enticed to lower their hiring stands, which would increase the number of unqualified drivers on the road.
Contacting Our Truck Accident Attorneys
If you have been involved in an accident with a large commercial truck, talk to our attorneys as soon as possible to learn about your legal rights. Arnold & Itkin LLP offers free consultations to truck accident victims throughout the United States. Contact our truck accident attorneys today.