Truck Driver Shortage and how it Increases the Risk of Collision?


Cargo truck

The growth of the trucking industry is crucial for the US economy. According to the American Trucking Associations, 71 percent of all the cargo and freight tonnage is moved in and out of the US on trucks. And to move approximately 10.5 billion tons of cargo each year, the trucking industry needs more than 3.6 million Class 8 heavy-duty trucks and nearly 3.5 million skilled truck drivers. Simply stated, without the trucks and truck drivers the US economy would take a dip and practically come to a standstill.

Let’s take a look at the current scenario. At present the US trucking industry is short 60,000 drivers. This gap between the demand and supply of truck drivers is expected to increase in the years to come, and by 2026 the United States is likely to become short 175,000 truckers.

The increasing truck driver shortage has put the companies operating in the truck industry under serious pressure. Not only do they have to meet the tight deadlines, but also find skilled drivers who are capable of moving freight. The shortage of truck drivers has resulted in a snowball effect as the prevailing situation has put the existing truck drivers under more stress which has increased the risk of collisions too.

Here’s how:

Long Work Hours

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck drivers are allowed a period of 14 consecutive hours in which they drive up to 11 hours after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. But due to the shortage of drivers, the existing truck drivers are expected to work for longer hours. To deliver cargo before the deadline, truckers are compromising on their rest and sleep. As they sit behind the vehicle without taking any rest breaks in between, they eventually get exhausted and fatigued, thus they are more likely to lose their vehicle’s control, increasing the likelihood of accidents.

Although drivers are expected to comply with the FMCSA, the trucking companies are willing to bend the rules as they urge the drivers to work longer.

Aging Drivers

The average age of truck drivers currently is about 49, but the driver shortage is leading some trucking companies to hire older drivers, including retirees in the seventies and eighties. Aging may affect a driver’s cognitive functioning, vision, hearing, and reaction time.  Expecting aging drivers to work for countless hours is dangerous not just for them but for others sharing the road with them.

Reckless Driving

Driving heavy duty trucks requires good control over speed, momentum and the vehicle. A speeding semi-truck weighing 80,000 pounds takes about 525 feet before it can stop after the driver perceives danger and recognizes that they need to hit the brakes. However, in order to meet deadlines and deliver the freight on time, drivers end up engaging in reckless driving practices and accidents are therefore, inevitable.

Overloaded Cargo Trucks

Another way that trucking companies are compensating for the shortage of drivers, which has put the current truckers under stress, is that drivers are now required to haul larger cargos from destination A to B in a timely manner. In other words, trucking companies overload trucks to deliver shipments on-time. What they fail to realize is that overloaded trucks are harder to maneuver, especially for truckers who lack experience in driving semi-trailers and 8 wheelers. In addition to this, overloaded trucks are more likely to experience equipment failures, such as brake failure and tire blowouts. All these factors combined put the driver at risk to accidents.

Alarming Truck Accident Statistics

All the factors discussed above have led to the rise in trucking accidents in and across the US. Here are some alarming truck accident statistics worth knowing. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • In 2018 approximately 4,678 people lost their precious lives in accidents with large trucks. This figure is up by 1% from the figure recorded in 2017 which was 4,369 number of fatalities
  • Deaths involving semi-trailers increased for the 4th consecutive year
  • Pedestrians that were killed in truck accidents rose by 13%
  • Among the deaths in truck accidents in 2018 16% were truck occupants, 67 percent were car occupants, and 15% pedestrians

Although after a crash with a large truck, the chances of survival are minimal; if you happen to survive you’re likely to be severely injured because of the size and force of the heavy truck hitting a passenger car. Common truck accident injuries include head injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, fractures and traumatic brain injuries. These injuries can sometimes even cause lasting as well as permanent body damage.

File a Personal Injury Claim in Case of a Truck Accident in South or North Carolina

If you have been severely injured or lost a loved one wrongfully in a truck accident in South or North Carolina due to the truck driver’s negligence, then by law you have the right to file a personal injury claim and pursue compensation for injuries and losses incurred. Financial compensation is important for coping with the costly medical treatment and rehabilitation that comes after being injured in a truck accident.

For help fighting for fair and full compensation, contact our experienced personal injury attorney today. At the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor P.C., we will review your case, and suggest legal options for your situation,  providing you with quality representation. Our lawyer will carry out an in-depth investigation to collect all crucial pieces of evidence from the accident scene, such as truck driver logbooks, black box, GPS and other details. This will help us answer all the crucial questions, such as how the accident occurred, who caused it and why. Answers to these questions will help us establish a strong liability case against the truck driver, truck manufacturer, or the trucking company whoever is responsible. We’ll work on your case relentlessly and negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement. If you don’t agree with the settlement offered by the insurer, we can take the case to court for trial. At the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor P.C., we fight for our clients to be fully compensated.

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