The trucking industry has struggled with a shortage of truck drivers for most of the 21st century. The American Trucking Association (ATA) first documented the problem in 2005, tracking it ever since. Their most recent report, the 2019 Truck Driver Shortage Analysis, shows the industry was short nearly 61,000 drivers in 2018.
The report predicts that the shortage could balloon to more than 160,000 by 2028 as the industry struggles to replace aging drivers and freight volumes continue to increase.
As a result of the shortage, more companies must hire under-qualified drivers, including those with spotty driving records and very little experience. This is a dangerous combination for everyone who shares the road with heavy commercial trucks.
Dangerous Effects of the Truck Driver Shortage
Without enough drivers to fill positions, companies find themselves asking more from existing drivers and equipment. Delivery deadlines still exist, and the volume of goods requiring delivery will only increase as online shopping continues to explode.
The shortage contributes to road danger in many ways, some of which are:
- Hours of service violations: Some trucking companies may essentially force drivers to drive more hours than they’re legally allowed. This leads to driver fatigue, which we know to be the most common cause of truck accidents.
- Less experienced drivers: Trucking companies sometimes have no choice but to hire drivers with little to no experience driving 18-wheelers. They may even hire drivers that have problematic driving records. Either way, such drivers are more likely to make basic mistakes that lead to serious wrecks.
- Lack of maintenance: Without enough drivers available, some trucks have to stay out on the road longer, while other trucks sit for long periods. Unfortunately, trucks must be used and maintained on tight schedules to remain safe. Poor truck maintenance endangers everyone else on the road.
What’s Causing This Truck Driver Shortage?
According to the American Trucking Association, one of the biggest factors affecting the truck driver shortage is the high average age of the existing driver pool. In the over-the-road trucking sector, for example, the average driver age is 46. The private carrier sector’s average age is even higher.
Another factor the ATA cites is the industry’s long-running struggle to attract drivers from different population segments, specifically women. In 2018, just 6.6% of truck drivers were women. According to a recent Bloomberg report, the industry hopes to attract more women drivers through technology that makes trucks easier to drive and more comfortable.
Lifestyle was also cited as a major factor in the shortage. Being out on the road for weeks at a time isn’t appealing to many new drivers. Young drivers with young families often don’t want to be away for that long, leading them to seek other jobs closer to home.
Our Dallas Truck Accident Lawyers Help People Injured by Commercial Trucks
Ted B. Lyon & Associates is one of Texas’ leading law firms in the field of personal injury law, specifically in truck accident cases. If you or someone you love was injured or killed in a truck wreck anywhere in Texas, our Dallas attorneys are here to help. Schedule a free initial consultation anytime by calling 800-TedLyon or by contacting us online.