Truck Driver Shortage and Increased Truck Accidents
The trucking industry is experiencing a massive shortage of commercial truck drivers. One reason for the shortage is the industry’s reliance on one demographic – middle-aged male employees – and its struggles to attract younger drivers. Long hours away from home, difficult and often unhealthy working conditions, and the availability of more attractive employment options have all contributed to the industry’s inability to recruit new, qualified truckers.
The Washington Post reported that the American Trucking Associations (ATA) claimed it needed roughly 51,000 more drivers to meet demand from companies like Walmart and Amazon. The Street reported that a research note from Sky Harbor’s Director of Research Michael Salice states that industry experts feared the current shortage of about 60,000 drivers could triple by 2026 without any meaningful changes. Seaport Global Securities LLC analyst Kevin Sterling told The Street that the current shortage of truck drivers might actually be as much as 100,000 or more.
Because of the shortage, many companies have been forced to either require their current drivers to work more or hire inexperienced and often unqualified drivers for the job. Some companies even turn to hiring or retaining truckers with spotty safety records. This is a dangerous situation that sets the stage for serious truck accidents.
If you suffered severe injuries or your loved one was killed in a commercial truck crash in the Savannah area, contact a truck accident lawyer who knows how to get results. A lawyer familiar with truck accident claims can investigate the true cause of your accident, gather the necessary evidence, identify all the potentially liable parties, and negotiate with insurance companies to seek the maximum amount of compensation you need and deserve.
How Can the Trucker Shortage Result in Accidents?
Trucking companies have deliveries to make, but many are forced to meet this demand with a limited number of qualified drivers. While federal hours of service limits are intended to limit the number of hours a truck driver can work in a given day or week, some companies may encourage their drivers to commit violations of these regulations or may put unreasonable pressure on drivers to do so to make their deliveries on time.
When truck drivers are overworked, they can easily suffer driver fatigue. A drowsy truck driver is more prone to “zoning out” or possibly even falling asleep at the wheel. Tired drivers may also turn to illegal, prescription, and over-the-counter stimulants to stay awake. These drugs come with dangerous side effects
A tired or impaired driver may find themselves unable to control their truck or react in the same manner that a well-rested, sober driver might. When this happens, severe or fatal accidents could occur.
Similarly, trucking companies may increasingly rely on very young or very old drivers to make their deliveries. They may also turn to drivers with questionable driving records who would not otherwise be hired but for the shortage. These drivers are less experienced and may not have the skills necessary to handle large commercial vehicles correctly. When companies alter their age requirements or lower their standards to allow inexperienced drivers or those with a questionable driving record to work for them, everyone on the road is put at risk.
Who Is Liable for Truck Accidents?
One of the major reasons that a commercial truck crash is far different from an ordinary automobile accident claim is that many other parties besides the truck driver could be liable for damages. In most car crash claims, it is usually one driver or another’s insurance company that alone is responsible for covering all of these costs. In many truck accident cases, the liability may be shared across numerous parties.
Depending on the specific cause of your crash, liable parties could include:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company or employer
- Truck owner
- Trailer owner
- Cargo owner or shipper
- Governmental entity
- Truck part manufacturer
- Cargo loading company
- Maintenance company
- Another driver
Proving the liability of other parties can be challenging, which is why you will want to work with a skilled lawyer who knows how to conduct an independent investigation of the accident. Many of these parties may initially deny liability and try to pass the blame on to others. You should make sure that you are working with a knowledgeable lawyer who can identify every negligent party and work to hold them accountable.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck drivers can make the same mistakes as any other driver on the road. Unfortunately, when they do, the sheer size and weight of their vehicles can cause much more damage than smaller vehicles. Especially when traveling at highway speeds, a collision with an 18-wheeler or other large commercial truck could have devastating results.
A few examples of common causes of commercial truck crashes include:
- Driver error
- Unsecured loads
- Inclement weather
- Mechanical defects
- Inadequate driver training
- Driver fatigue
- Brake failure
- Overloaded trailers
- Failure to maintain vehicle
Determining the exact cause of your crash may require an extensive review of mountains of evidence. Most commercial trucks have black boxes onboard that record massive amounts of information about every move the truck makes. The trucking company should also have maintenance logs, driver rest logs, and more. Your lawyer will be able to sift through all of this evidence, find the evidence that matters to your case, and understand exactly what it means.
Correlation Between Trucker Shortage and Increased Accidents
The founder and CEO of the trucking recruitment system DriverReach, Jeremy Reymer, told Business Insider that many truck drivers were retiring and companies were not finding enough people to replace them. As a result, the ATA and International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) were supporting the DRIVE-Safe Act, a bill introduced to Congress that would lower the minimum age to become a truck driver from 21 years of age to 18 years of age.
Not all people were enthusiastic about this idea. Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association president Todd Spencer told Business Insider, “there really isn’t any question that younger drivers are going to be more likely to crash and more likely to be involved in serious crashes.”
While younger drivers are seen as possible causing more accidents, keep in mind that CBS News reported that drivers 65 years of age or older comprised about 10 percent of the commercial vehicle drivers in the United States. A five-month CBS News analysis of crash data found there was a 19 percent increase in accidents involving commercial truck and bus drivers in their 70s, 80s and even 90s in the past three years, and there were over 6,636 accidents involving elderly drivers in 12 states.
How Can Savannah Truck Accident Attorneys at Spiva Law Group Help Me?
Did you sustain catastrophic injuries or was your loved one killed in a truck accident in the Savannah area? Act quickly to get qualified legal representation from an attorney who understands how to get you the compensation you are owed.
Trucking companies will often dispatch agents to crash scenes in an effort to get victims to sign paperwork that is presented as being just part of the standard procedure. You should not sign anything or even say anything to any insurance company or claims adjuster until you have a lawyer.
If you were hurt in a truck accident, don’t despair. Help is available to you and your family. The truck accident lawyers of Spiva Law Group have protected the rights of injured people across Georgia for over three decades. Call or contact us online to set up a free consultation now. Check out our latest truck accident e-book about what to do if you were in a truck accident.