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How Is Truck Driver Shortage a Major Safety Risk?

If you’ve recently sat in the comfort of your bedroom and ordered a product from an e-commerce site and wondered why the price for delivery is so high or why the last delivery took so long to get to you – It’s because there’s a shortage of truck drivers in the trucking industry.

This decline has been ongoing for over 15 years now and it’s a lot likely to get worse. In 2018, the American trucking associations released reports that highlighted several things:

  1. The trucking industry is responsible for transporting more than 70% of freight volumes in the country
  2. Over 800,000 new truck drivers are needed to cope with the demand in the industry
  3. The average age of truck drivers is 55 years. As a result of this, new and young drivers are desperately needed to balance a large number of drivers nearing retirement.

Here’s where the big problem lies – the young drivers that are desperately needed aren’t interested in taking up truck driving jobs. The lifestyle of drivers (oftentimes staying on the road for a long time) isn’t appealing to millennials who would rather opt for alternative jobs with better appeal and pay.

Not to mention that truck driving is up there amongst the most dangerous jobs in the United States.

The effect of this fatigue in the trucking industry is a lot more than hiked delivery prices: lives are in danger with an increasing rate of truck accidents in the U.S.

How the lack of truck drivers poses safety risks to the public

  1. Exhausted and Overworked Drivers: With fewer truck drivers in the U.S, there is a lot of pressure on the available guys to make deliveries – they spend an unhealthy number of days on the road and end up being overworked and exhausted. This increases the rate of truck accidents and puts other motorists in danger.
  2. Incompetent and Underqualified drivers: A trailer loaded with goods will reach tens of thousands of pounds in weight. Expertise is needed to handle such a vehicle. Yet, due to immense pressure to move freight volumes, trucking companies are hiring below standard drivers to meet up with the demand. The risk that inexperienced drivers pose to other drivers cannot be overstated.
  3. Negligence of Regulations: Since most truck drivers are constantly in a race against time to distribute goods, they will often time violate or completely ignore safety regulations that exist in truck driving – like taking mandated breaks, maximum hours to drive in a day, etc. All these put all the other drivers, sharing the road, at a huge risk.

The safety concerns that exist because of the shortage of truck drivers are almost endless. More work needs to be done to make the roads trustworthy again for people living in the U.S