All roads from highways to interstates are used by semi-trucks, big rigs, and 18-wheelers. With these vehicles on all roads, many people are surprised to find out that there is a lack of approximately 60,000 commercial truck drivers. One analysis of this shortage places the number around 100,000. Regardless of the current number, industry experts are expecting this shortage to triple by 2026.
A lot of people wonder why there is a shortage of drivers. Experts have linked this to the aging workforce, the high turnover rates, and the reduction of capacity under changes to regulations. Lifestyle and safety concerns have also led truckers to leave the industry.
USA Today as stated that trucking is one of the most dangerous occupation in the country. In 2016, this industry had 24.7 fatalities per 100 with the most common injuries being overexertion and bodily reactions. The body will take the strain from this job as truckers work extremely long shifts and will sit for prolonged periods.
To tackle this shortage, many companies have increased the wages on offer by 15%. There are other companies offering signing bonuses for new drivers. The effects of the driver shortage, according to the American Trucking Association, will be higher prices and delayed deliveries. There are other ways that this shortage will affect everyone.
The Effect On Road Safety
The trucking industry has seen an increased demand for its services and companies are trying to meet this. Not having qualified drivers is causing a serious problem and causing 2 major issues for the industry as a whole. The first is that the current drivers have to work longer to meet demands. The second is the demand pressure has led to lower hiring standards. Both of these issues have serious repercussions for other road users.
Long shifts are something that truckers have to sign up for. There are a lot of truckers who are on the road for weeks or months taking them away from their homes and families. Truckers have to meet delivery deadlines and this brings the temptation of driving as many hours as possible. Some truckers are pushing their limits to meet their deadlines.
A lot of truckers feel pressure from their bosses to push the limits. This is something that will increase the chances of accidents. Clear links have been found between accidents and driver fatigue. Being awake for 18 hours while on the road has a similar effect as a BAC of 0.08% which is higher than the legal limit.
The increasing demand for trucking services and the limited number of drivers has forced companies to higher drivers who are not as qualified as they should be. This has resulted in the deferral regulators taking note. Commercial vehicles are more than trucks as this category includes transport vehicles holding more than 8 passengers. With this being the case, there are laws and guidelines that trucking companies have to follow when hiring drivers.
The regulations they have to follow include the driver needing a valid commercial driver’s license. Other qualifications include age, experience as a driver, health, wellness, and training. The regulations also prohibit certain drivers from operating commercial vehicles. Drivers with offenses for driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or higher or a DUI.
There are laws that cover truck safety and they are there to keep the general public safe. While these regulations are in place, the current shortage of drivers gives the trucking companies an excuse to bend the rules to meet their needs. This bending of the rules is done to boost their interest without any care for the public. This will lead to accidents that seriously injure truck drivers and other road users.