Over the past 10 years, an increasing shortage of semi truck drivers has been afflicting the trucking industry. In January 2019, the American Trucking Associations said the United States would be short 175,000 truck drivers by 2026.
While various factors have contributed to the shortage of truck drivers in Dallas, the results have had impacts on the public from delayed deliveries and increasing consumer prices to a higher risk of truck accidents and catastrophic injuries on Texas roadways.
With a truck driver shortage, many trucking companies are under significant pressure to find drivers capable of moving cargo, including drivers with little experience or spotty driving records. As the shortage continues to worsen, existing truck drivers are under more stress to work more hours than usual.
Why There is a Shortage of Commercial Truck Drivers
According to industry experts, the persisting shortage of commercial truck drivers has stemmed from several issues, including:
- Owner-Operator Model and Costs
- Truck Driver Lifestyle
- More Retirees than New Hires
Owner-Operator Model and Costs
Many motor carriers hire truckers as independent contractors under the owner-operator model, in which the trucker purchases the commercial truck under a lease-to-own deal with the motor carrier. These types of arrangements can present high upfront costs to truckers, who become responsible for covering other truck-related costs like maintenance, fuel, and insurance. The result is leaving truckers with a minimal income once their operating costs are covered. This presents a significant economic barrier to those wanting to enter the industry.
The Trucker Lifestyle
Truckers are away from home spending large amounts of time on the road away from family and friends. The trucker lifestyle is not for everyone and can present another barrier to recruiting new truckers to join the industry.
More Retirees than New Hires
The average age of an American trucker is 55 years old. Many of these drivers will be preparing to retire over the next 10 to 15 years. The truck driver shortage is expected to persist with the lack of qualified younger drivers entering the industry.
The Truck Driver Shortage May Be Increasing the Risk of Truck Accidents
The trucker shortage has contributed to a higher risk of commercial truck crashes due to factors including:
- Inexperienced Truckers Being Hired
- Truck Drivers are Facing Increasingly Rigorous Delivery Schedules
- Overloaded Trucks
Inexperienced Truckers Being Hired
With a growing need for drivers, some motor carriers are relaxing their hiring requirements and hiring under-qualified applicants.
In some cases, motor carriers may even cut corners in the hiring process, overlook poor driving records or fail to verify applicants’ credentials in a rush to hire truckers. All of this can result in inexperienced drivers behind the wheel of large, heavy commercial trucks. The lack of experience can increase the risk of mishandling trucks, which fails to comply with trucking regulations. Any or all of which can increase the risk of truck wrecks and catastrophic injury on the roads.
Truck Drivers are Facing Increasingly Rigorous Delivery Schedules
With fewer truckers to haul loads, some motor carriers may be demanding more from the drivers they do have, setting demanding – if not unrealistic – delivery schedules to try to maximize profits.
Trucking companies that are short on drivers have to rely on the same ones over and over again. Federal law strictly limits the number of hours a driver can operate in a given day or week, but some trucking companies encourage their drivers to break these rules to complete deliveries.
Overworked truck drivers often become far more dangerous because they are usually fatigued. This leads to possible bouts of “drowsy driving,” a period in which truck drivers struggle to stay awake and therefore elevate the threat of truck crashes and catastrophic injury.
Trucks Being Overloaded
Another way motor carriers may try to compensate for the trucker shortage is to overload trucks with cargo. This presents a higher risk of truck crashes as overloaded trucks are far more difficult to maneuver – especially for inexperienced truckers. Additionally, overloaded trucks are far more likely to experience dangerous equipment failures, like tire blowouts and brake failures.
When it comes to the truck driver shortage in Texas and its role in increasing the risk of trucking wrecks, these forms of negligence occur and cause truck wrecks.
Filing a personal injury claim after a commercial truck wreck can be complicated. The experienced truck wreck attorneys at Hamilton Wingo, LLP can help you on your path to justice and compensation if you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident. Hamilton Wingo, LLP understands the impact of the truck driver shortage in Dallas and can investigate to determine if a trucking company violated any state or federal regulations.
If you were seriously injured or your loved one was killed in a commercial truck crash in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex, contact us right away.
Call (214) 234-7900, for your free consultation. In this no obligations case review, we will explain your rights and legal options. Free virtual and mobile consultations are available to those who cannot visit our office.