Semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles pose a serious safety risk across the United States. In a year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) records 114,000 truck incidents in which someone was wounded, with 4,479 fatalities. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic and other reasons have resulted in another issue that may increase the likelihood of truck accidents: a statewide lack of truck drivers. Talk to a Stockton truck accident attorney today if you are interested in learning more about truck accidents.
How could a truck driver shortage lead to hazardous road conditions?
According to trucking industry data, there is a nationwide demand for around 80,000 extra truck drivers. The problem may worsen if more truckers leave the sector for higher pay and less demanding working conditions. Truck driver shortages may make roadways less safe for all vehicles in three ways:
A shortage of truck drivers can have a significant impact on road safety, as it can lead to increased pressure on existing drivers to work longer hours, drive longer distances, and take on more deliveries than they can handle. This can result in a number of issues that can compromise the safety of both truck drivers and other road users, including:
- Negligent hiring methods
Trucking corporations should only hire completely qualified drivers who have no preceding history of driving while intoxicated or other safety problems and have driving experience. Yet, employers may turn to less eligible candidates if they struggle to find skilled drivers. Truck drivers with a history of alcohol or drug misuse, inexperience, or prior traffic offenses are more likely to cause an accident, putting other drivers at risk.
- Driver Fatigue
Long hours on the road can lead to driver fatigue, which can impair a driver’s ability to react to changing road conditions or unexpected events. This increases the risk of accidents and collisions.
- Reduced Maintenance
A shortage of drivers can also mean that trucks are being used more frequently and are not receiving the maintenance they require, leading to an increased risk of mechanical failure.
- Inadequate driver training
Companies anxious to have drivers on the road after hiring may rush the training process. Moreover, motor carriers are often more likely to overlook an applicant who lies about their driving experience or previous training.
- Inexperienced Drivers
In order to fill the shortage of drivers, companies may resort to hiring less experienced drivers who may not have the necessary training or skills to handle the demands of the job. This can lead to a higher incidence of accidents and safety incidents.
- Speeding and Reckless Driving
When drivers are under pressure to meet tight deadlines, they may resort to speeding or engaging in reckless driving behaviors in order to make up time. This can increase the risk of accidents and collisions.
- Longer hours
Because of the truck driver scarcity, truckers who are still working are being pushed to handle additional deliveries. This could lead to truck drivers traveling for extended periods when it would be preferable for them to stop and rest. Federal Hours of Service regulations are intended to prevent truck drivers from operating when fatigued. However, truckers may disregard or violate these regulations to make on-time deliveries.
- Overloading trailers
Due to truck driver scarcity, fewer trucks are available to make deliveries. As a result, trucking companies are loading more freight onto trailers than in past years. The heavier a truck’s payload, the more difficult it is to control, the longer it takes to stop, and the more damage it may cause in a collision. Overloaded trucks are also more likely to experience mechanical malfunctions, which may result in a collision.
Overall, a truck driver shortage can have a significant impact on road safety. It is important for trucking companies to address the root causes of the shortage, such as low pay and poor working conditions, in order to ensure that drivers are able to do their jobs safely and effectively. Additionally, regulatory bodies may need to step in to implement safety regulations that ensure all drivers are operating under safe conditions.
Contact a truck accident attorney today. Have you been injured in a truck accident caused by someone else? An experienced truck accident attorney can help you get appropriate compensation for your injuries. Call a lawyer right away.