Will a Truck Driver Shortage Compromise Road Safety?

Posted on Oct 14 2014 - 5:18am by Editor

There’s a shortage of truck drivers out there on the road, and this is causing safety concerns, according to some experts. Why? Because fewer drivers means longer hours for existing drivers, more overtime, and thus more tired or less focused drivers. What will be the breaking point?

truck accidentThe 14-Hour Limit

One of the biggest problems facing trucking companies right now are federal regulations governing how long workers may work before they must rest. Hours of service rules for truckers were put into place in 2011 under the Hours of Service of Drivers Final Rule, which was published in the federal register on December 27th of that year. The rules stipulate that trucking companies must limit the maximum average work week for truckers to 70 hours.

This is down from the previous 82 hour work week that was permissible. Truck drivers also need to rest 34 consecutive if they reach the 70 hour limit within the week. This rest period must include at least two nights when the employee’s body clock requires sleep the most. This is determined to be between 1AM and 5AM.

Finally, truckers must take a 30-minute break during the first 8 hours of driving to relax. Trucking accidents are often the result of human error, which can be caused by excessive tiredness of the driver.

Attorneys, like the Philly Truck Accident Attorneys, know all too well the type of damage that can be caused by a lack of rest on the part of the driver. However, these regulations also cause a shortage of drivers on the road when trucking companies need them the most.

A Wage Problem

Many trucking companies did not survive the recession with all of their cash reserves intact. In fact, many of them are still struggling. As a consequence, some of the better-off companies are able to pay higher wages. This causes a wage problem where some trucking companies simply aren’t able to pay rates that they used to be able to pay.

A Supply Problem

Even when trucking companies do pay higher wages, sometimes it’s not enough. Many companies, like Swift Transportation, are still short employees, despite offering higher wages to employees. But Swift isn’t alone. Many companies are in the same boat – err truck, as it were. Higher wages are necessary to attract younger talent and grow the employer pool.

You see, even when the employee pool is “full,” a lot of the employees in that pool are old hats – truckers that bounce around from tucking company to trucking company. So, a lot of the new faces are actually old.

Solutions To The Problem

Fundamentally, the problem is a stale employee pool. Companies have to revise their compensation packages, attract and retain drivers as key employees, and find ways to lower costs for its own customers.

Other solutions need to come from the government, but not in the form of subsidies. Rather, regulation must accommodate the market demands of companies. In other words, 14-hour work rules need to be rethought in light of an employee shortage.

Whether trucking companies, and the government, has what it takes to revive the industry, however, remains to be seen.

Keith Kofsky, Esq., is a longtime personal injury lawyer in the northeast. Advocating for accident victims, he enjoys sharing information to help his readers. You can read his enlightening posts on a number of blog sites.