Both anecdotal and statistical evidence suggest that the American trucking industry is experiencing a driver shortage. This shortage is more than a mere inconvenience that results in missed deadlines or higher distribution costs. It can also lead to dangerously inexperienced drivers being placed behind the wheels of large, fully loaded cargo trucks.
These drivers are more likely to injure or kill other road users in traffic accidents. A Jonesboro truck accident attorney can help injury victims hold transportation companies accountable for putting dangerously unqualified truck drivers on the road.
Why Aren’t There Enough Truck Drivers?
National Public Radio reports that almost 900,000 truck drivers must be hired across the United States in order to meet the demands of the market. With more than 70 percent of American goods being moved by truck, the demand for drivers is both constant and relentless. NPR relates the results of a report by the American Trucking Industry, which found that the truck driver shortage has been a problem for at least 15 years, since the early 2000s.
The problem was less pronounced after the housing market crash of 2008, after which freight volumes markedly - but temporarily - dropped nationwide. When freight volumes recovered in 2011, the industry was again faced with a lack of drivers. NPR also reports that 2018 has the lowest ratio of available trucks-to-loads needing transportation (1 to 12) since 2005.
Why aren’t there enough truck drivers to meet demand? USA Today spoke with professional truck drivers to get a firsthand perspective on the problem. One female driver cited low pay, a nomadic lifestyle, and privacy concerns as the primary reasons for the high rate of turnover within the trucking industry. The American Trucking Association reports that trucker turnover surged in the second quarter of 2017, and is now at 90 percent. This is consistent with years of data that have placed truck driver turnover at or near 100 percent.
High turnover rates mean that transportation companies are constantly recruiting and training new drivers. Many companies must offer incentives to entice drivers to join their fleets. USA Today found signing bonuses of up to $8,000, guaranteed late pay, higher mileages, time-related bonuses and other similar incentives to encourage drivers to join transportation companies.
How Truck Driver Shortages Affect Other Road Users
Truck driver shortages do not just affect the transportation industry. Shortages can lead to inexperienced or untrained drivers taking large, heavy vehicles onto the road alongside smaller passenger vehicles. In a collision between the two, physics favors the larger, heavier vehicle. This is why injury victims often suffer more severe injuries, or even death, in a collision with a large truck.
Transportation companies have a duty to provide their drivers with reasonable training and experience prior to putting them on the road. Failure to do so can result in a finding of negligence for failure to exercise due care. Tight deadlines, production demands, or other pressures will not excuse a company’s obligation to compensate the victims of its negligence.
Victims can include drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, or anyone else who suffers bodily injury or property loss as a result of an accident caused by an inexperienced truck driver. A Jonesboro truck accident attorney can help injury victims improve their access to the compensation to which they are legally entitled.