The trucking industry has thrived in part because of the numerous men and women who operate the large commercial vehicles that transport goods and commodities throughout the country. These drivers, by law, are specially trained and certified to driver commercial vehicles, and they must abide by numerous regulations that help them reduce risks posed by the massive machines they operate – machines that can cause devastating truck accidents, injuries, and deaths when risks are not appropriately managed. Although truckers play such an important role in the industry, and in keeping the public save from preventable harm – trucking operators nationwide are still facing shortages in quality and qualified drivers.
Over the years, the trucking industry has faced a decline in the number of available truck drivers to operate 18-wheelers, box trucks, and other cargo carrying commercial vehicles. This was notably announced when trucking operators and industry lobbyists proposed legislation to lower the age of interstate truck drivers from 21 to 18 several years ago (a measure that did not, and has still not passed Congress). According to industry experts, the shortage has become even worse in the past several months.
The American Trucking Association has stated that in order to meet the rising demand of consumer products moved by truck (which accounts for over 70% of all goods consumed by the U.S.), the trucking industry would need to hire close to 900,000 truck drivers. With such a significant shortage, the industry is already concerned about delayed shipments, as well as increased costs of consumer goods. However, there are some other concerns posed by the shortage, including those related to public safety. These include:
- Because a shortage places more pressure and financial strain on trucking operators, they’re more likely to violate certain trucking regulations that can endanger the public. These include loading vehicles with too much freight, or having drivers violate Hours-of-Service rules designed to prevent truck driver fatigue.
- With a lack of qualified drivers, more inexperienced and possibly uncertified or untrained drivers may be hitting the road. Operators and truckers may also seek out fraudulent health certifications to get more drivers on the road – a problem recently exposed when federal authorities conducted a sting operation that found some doctors fraudulently clear unfit truckers.
- The trucking industry will continue to lobby and support efforts that rollback critical safety regulations, including regulations over driver sleep apnea, lower driver age limits, and increased vehicle weight limits.
The truck driver shortage may be a problem for the consumer industry, but it should not be prioritized at the expense of public safety. Given the trucking industry’s record of fighting safety laws, there is significant concern among experts and safety advocates that the industry will put profits over people in their attempts to fight regulations and pass new bills that back dangerous practices, or simply ignore existing laws in an effort to protect their bottom line.
As a law firm that fights for truck accident victims and others harmed by negligence across Texas, The Daspit Law Firm is well aware of the dangers that come when corporations prioritize profits over people. As the industry continues to address the shortage, we hope that they do so with the interests of public safety in mind. When the fail to do so and cause accidents and injuries as a result, we intend to do our part by protecting the rights of victims, holding trucking companies and drivers accountable, and fighting for justice and resolutions that promote better safety policies industrywide.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a trucking wreck that could and should have been prevented, you might be entitled to financial compensation for your damages. The Daspit Law Firm is comprised of experienced personal injury lawyers who know what to look for when establishing fault and liability in trucking accidents, and is available to help you better understand your rights and whether you have a potential claim for compensation during a FREE consultation. Contact us to discuss your case.