Think about the first time you got behind the wheel of a vehicle. Maybe you were excited, even eager to start driving. But you were also likely nervous. That’s because driving is a skill that takes time to master.
Now imagine that you’re getting behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle, an 18-wheeler with a loaded trailer you need to haul cross-country. The level of skill and experience required to safely operate such a large vehicle is significantly greater than it is with a passenger vehicle.
And when truck drivers make a mistake, lives are at risk. That’s because tractor-trailers are far more likely than passenger vehicles to cause serious injury and death when they’re involved in crashes. There are other causes for truck accidents, of course.
Experience truly matters for truck drivers. That’s why certain problems currently plaguing the trucking industry are also problems for everyone on our roads; we depend heavily on the skill and expertise of truckers.
What Research Says About Inexperienced Truck Drivers
Recent research has found that age and experience both play a role in the safety of a commercial vehicle operator. A study funded by the National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence found that of those two factors, experience was by far the most important in determining the crash risk of a driver.
The first year of driving a commercial vehicle is riskier than subsequent years in terms of crash rates, crash involvement, and moving violations, regardless of age, the report found. Though that’s true for drivers in all age groups, it’s especially true for new drivers age 55 and over. That age group had the highest crash risks of all those studied.
Serious Problems Facing the Trucking Industry
Why is this report such a concern for the trucking industry? The trucking industry has been experiencing a labor shortage for many years. Trucking companies across the U.S. collectively need about 60,000 drivers to fill this shortage. Many trucking industry experts believe this shortfall will grow to more than 160,000 drivers by 2028.
To address this problem, the trucking industry is considering several measures as possible solutions, one of which is lobbying for legislation that would allow younger drivers to legally operate commercial vehicles across state lines. Currently, some states allow drivers under the age of 21 to drive commercial vehicles within state boundaries, though federal laws prohibit them from operating commercial vehicles across state lines.
Trucking companies have also created a work environment that is far less enticing to workers than it was in decades past. Today’s truckers are usually contractors, not employees. Wages for truckers have also declined significantly over the past few decades, and drivers are increasingly being asked to foot the bill for expenses that used to be covered by the trucking companies.
The Trucking Industry Has Played a Role in Its Own Labor Shortage
The trucking industry has systematically made the role of a truck driver more difficult through years of deregulation and wage cuts. In short, trucking companies have put themselves in a situation where they’re scrambling to find new drivers.
Trucking companies want to lure in new (and inexperienced) drivers to meet shipping demands. It’s important they do so with all our safety in mind. The National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence suggests extensive training programs and additional safety technology to make sure trucking companies hire drivers in the safest manner possible.
If You Need Help After a Truck Accident, You Better Phone Stone
At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, we know how complex trucking accident cases can be. Trucking companies and their insurance providers do everything in their power to mitigate liability after a crash. We know their tactics and how to stand up for the compensation our clients are entitled to.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, call our Boston truck accident attorneys today for a free consultation.