There is a trucking dilemma in the United States that impacts not just consumers and the trucking industry, but also translates into road safety problems. Maybe you aren’t even aware of the decade-long shortage of truck drivers. This shortage and the demand it puts on drivers in the field can result in accidents on the roads. The scary reality is, without some changes, the risk of danger might increase.
Over 68% of all freight in the United States already moves by truck. And demand for drivers is rising, not falling. The American Trucking Association (ATA) projects an annual growth rate of 3-4% through 2023. That translates into 900,000 new drivers needed. Economic and employment research shows that prime-aged workers, however, are not seeking out trucking jobs. The trucks on U.S. highways, therefore, are and will be driven by aging drivers and overworked drivers, who are more likely to cause truck accidents.
Drivers Are Older
The problem is that the average age of truck drivers is already 55. These workers are aging, and many are getting close to wanting to retire. Many will continue to take on contract driving jobs after they retire, effectively increasing the average age of drivers on the road even more. These drivers still take on the long-haul routes that put them at risk of sleep deprivation, poor nutrition and lack of exercise, just to keep up with the high demand of shipping in our current economy. These conditions affect older drivers even more than younger drivers and put all others on the roadways in danger of becoming injured in an accident.
If Drivers Shared The Workload, Roads Could Be Safer
Aware of the driver shortage and its need to attract more drivers, the trucking industry has discussed multiple potential fixes. These ideas, if implemented, could fill the employment gap in the trucking industry, provide economic and employment benefits and significantly reduce accidents:
- Reduce the time drivers must be on the road. Older drivers are more prone to falling asleep at the wheel, but any driver could become fatigued after driving too many hours Long haul driving schedules don’t make it easy to get a good night’s sleep. Many drivers sleep in their trucks or in cheap hotels. By using a hub and spoke delivery system, schedulers can reduce drive times and drivers spend more time closer to home and sleeping in their own beds. This more forgiving schedule would also attract younger workers who otherwise might pass up trucking work because of the long hours away from home.
- Reduce the minimum driving age from 21 to 18. This change could tap into the millions of high-school graduates who must now wait three years to train and pass the licensing test. Replacing the aging pool of licensed and experienced drivers with alert, young and tech-savvy drivers might significantly cut down on age-related accidents. As drivers age, they are prone to sleep-apnea, back problems and vision problems. Many of these conditions go undiagnosed until an accident happens.
- Seek a more diverse workforce. Truck drivers are not only older, but most are men. Perhaps if the trucking industry utilized more strategic recruiting tactics it could result in employing more women and minority group members. More qualified drivers available in the industry means more work shared. It would theoretically mean less taxing workloads for drivers and less risk of fatigue-related crashes.
Contact Us Immediately if You’ve Been Injured in a Trucking Accident
An aging and dwindling population of truck drivers is not just an economic concern. The statistics result in real-life dangers. Fatal truck accidents increased almost 26%
in the last 18 years. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, contact the experienced team at Ted B. Lyon & Associates at 800-TedLyon for a free consultation.