Americans rely on large trucks to transport products throughout the country. Truck drivers are needed to accomplish this distribution of goods and ensure the economy is maintained. Yet, for many years, there has been a shortage in qualified truck drivers, which has contributed to several problems. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, truck crashes have been on the rise for several years. The fatality rate from large truck crashes has also increased, from 3,825 in 2012 to 4,213 in 2016. How does the truck driver shortage contribute to the risk of truck crashes and deaths?
Trucking companies have goods that must be delivered to a certain place by a certain time. Despite hours of service regulations, truck drivers may be asked to drive longer hours in order to meet these deadlines. Drowsy truck drivers who have spent too much time behind the wheel without taking the required rest and sleep brakes may be unable to respond to hazards in the road, including pedestrians, bad weather, construction zones, traffic signals or other vehicles.
The lack of qualified truckers has led some trucking companies to hire truck drivers who are not qualified as a way to continue business. Some truckers may have previous driving violations but are needed due to the low volume of drivers. Other trucking companies have increased pay rates in order to entice qualified drivers. Truck drivers are paid according to how many miles are driven, as well as what type of load they are carrying. People have strayed away from this type of position as it requires them to spend long amounts of time away from the family.