Trucking companies have a duty to their employees and those of us who share the road with their vehicles to make sure the 18-wheelers on our nation’s highways are well maintained and adhere to federal and state trucking regulations created to ensure the safety of the truck, its driver, and other drivers on the roads.
With more than five million semi trucks on the road today, and with about 250 million motorists traveling the United States, trucking companies should do everything in their power to make our highways safe for everyone.
When trucking companies take shortcuts on safety and ignore regulations imposed by federal and state governments, truck accidents will happen and lives will be lost. But with so much pressure on trucking companies to get loads delivered as quickly as possible, trucking companies often feel pressure to cut corners.
Truck driver shortages is a problem in the trucking industry, and those shortages lead to a number of other issues, like inexperienced drivers being on the road and drivers taking assignments without proper training. Additionally, until changes are made to how strictly regulations are enforced, truck accidents will continue to be one of the most common causes of highway fatalities in the United States.
Commercial Truck Driver Shortage
Four years ago, the trucking industry was short approximately 40,000 drivers, and that number is expected to grow and reach approximately 175,000 by the year 2024. Given that shortage, it’s no wonder that trucking companies are cutting corners—regardless of how unsafe cutting corners may be.
Some factors contributing to the truck driver shortage are the federal age and hours-of-service regulations. The average age of a truck driver is 49, and many men and women who drive 18-wheelers are finding it difficult to keep up with the physical demands of the job.
Also, stricter hours-of-service regulations reduce productivity, which results in the need for more drivers to pick up the slack. Some “old school” truck drivers and companies are not happy about the regulations that drastically limit how many hours they can be behind the wheel. When these factors come into play, trucking companies are left with very few choices to get the job done, and safety can be compromised.
Trucking companies compromise safety in different ways. Following are just a few of the dangerous practices that may result:
- Hiring inexperienced, unqualified drivers
- Putting new drivers on the road without proper training
- Encouraging truckers to drive longer than they are legally allowed to
- Creating unrealistic delivery schedules that force drivers to drive longer than they’re supposed to, to speed, and to not sleep
- Falsifying log books
- Allowing poorly maintained semi trucks on the roadways
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck accident statistics are concerning: “There was a 34% decrease in the number of fatal crashes involving large trucks or buses between 2005 and 2009, followed by an increase of 28% between 2009 and 2016. From 2015 to 2016, the number of fatal crashes involving large trucks or buses increased by 6%.”
When trucking companies feel compelled to overlook or ignore safety regulations, other motorists and pedestrians suffer.