An aging truck driver population and a boom in online shopping may be setting the stage for a rise in fatal truck accidents now and in the years ahead.
Both of these factors have created a big need for truck drivers. According to the American Trucking Associations – the industry’s leading lobbying group – there is a now shortage of some 63,000 truck drivers. That gap is projected to widen to 174,000 truckers in eight years.
The median age of truck drivers today is 49. More truckers are retiring or finding other work than there are new drivers replacing them. The need for additional truck drivers will only increase in the foreseeable future due in large part to the explosion in online shopping. More internet purchases means more goods delivered, which requires more trucks and truck drivers.
But the solutions to driver shortages that trucking companies are considering may put other vehicle drivers at risk.
Inexperienced Truck Drivers
First, they are calling for a new law that would allow drivers under the age of 21 to haul big rigs across the country and across state lines. As previous research indicates, this call for younger truck drivers is a recipe for catastrophic truck crashes.
Driver error, such as inattentiveness or careless driving, is the leading cause of commercial truck accidents. And drivers under the age of 21 are the most at-risk group for accidents based on their inexperience behind the wheel.
So putting young truck drivers in control of rigs that weigh up to 80,000 pounds raises serious public safety questions.
The need to hire and retain more truck drivers has placed economic pressures on the transportation industry. To attract more drivers they’ve had to increase wages. In response, truck companies are fighting regulations designed to limit commercial truck crashes that they view are too costly. And the industry has been successful in its fight.
Speeding Truck Drivers
For example, the current federal administration has put on hold a previously proposed regulation that would require electronic speed limiters on new trucks. The U.S. Department of Transportation, when it proposed the rule in 2016, estimated it would save nearly 500 lives annually. Speeding truckers are responsible for a sizeable number of serious truck crashes every year.
When faced with threats to their bottom lines versus the safety of other drivers, trucking companies far too often put their own economic interests first. Negligent decisions in pursuit of profits can make innocent victims suffer.
If you were seriously hurt or had a family member killed in a crash with a commercial truck, consult a lawyer who represents victims of truck accidents to pursue your legal rights.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog August 10, 2018