The Dangers of Trucker Shortages
According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the U.S. has been dealing with a shortage of truck drivers for at least the past 15 years.
A lack of qualified commercial drivers has the potential to create serious hazards on the roads, both for truck drivers themselves and all of us who share the roads with commercial motor vehicles.
Current Truck Driver Shortage Statistics
The ATA notes that the truck driver profession first had a documented shortage of approximately 20,000 drivers in 2005. Although the shortage problem abated during the Great Recession in 2008 due to the downturn in economic activity, shortages quickly reappeared. The national shortage reached more than 50,000 drivers by 2017, with a turnover rate of 87 percent.
Although the shortfall dipped with the economic shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 to around 48,000 drivers, the shortage figures will likely continue to climb through the 2020s, potentially reaching hundreds of thousands of drivers by the middle of the decade.
Reasons for the Truck Driver Shortage
Experts have proposed several reasons for the growing shortage of qualified truck drivers, including:
- Aging workers – The average age of professional truck drivers has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. A majority of drivers today are within 10 years of their expected retirement.
- Lack of replacement drivers – Succeeding generations have not gone into the truck driving profession at the same rates as prior generations.
- Difficult hours – Potential workers may be turned off by the difficult hours required in the driving profession, including spending hours a day behind the wheel and days at a time on the road.
- Regulation – The trucking industry is subject to numerous regulations, making it difficult to fully train new drivers. Individuals who might potentially enter the industry may not want to spend their own time and money to undertake the training required to become a professional truck driver.
- Gender gap – Only a small percentage of truck drivers are female, leading to a perception of the trucking industry as a male-dominated profession. This could potentially turn off prospective female truck drivers.
- Lower pay – Heavy competition in the trucking industry and increasing costs, especially gas prices, have eaten into the pay or profits that truck drivers can earn.
Effects of Truck Driver Shortage on Traffic Safety
The truck driver shortage has led to various dangers on the roads, such as:
- Inexperienced drivers – Trucking companies have to turn to inexperienced and untrained individuals to operate trucks to keep deliveries moving. Lack of training and experience with a particular commercial vehicle greatly increases the risk of errors that can cause an accident.
- Increased driver fatigue – Fewer drivers mean those still working in the industry must work longer hours to meet the ever-increasing demand for shipping. This pushes some drivers to exceed their hours-of-service limitations, putting them at risk of drowsiness or fatigue behind the wheel.
- Increased wear and tear on equipment – Fewer drivers means each truck has to run more hours to keep up with demand, meaning increased wear-and-tear and fewer opportunities to maintain or fix vehicles and equipment.
If you’ve been injured in a crash with a commercial vehicle, contact Parnall Law today for a free, no-obligation consultation with a knowledgeable truck accident attorney. You may have legal options for pursuing financial compensation for your injuries and expenses from the accident. Our team is here to answer your questions and get you on the road to recovery.