According to a report by the American Trucking Association (ATA) released in October 2017, there is a serious shortage of truck drivers nationwide. ATA estimated the shortage would be 50,000 by the end of 2017 with the shortage to soar to 63,000 by the end of 2018, and to increase to 174,000 by 2026. At Springer & Lyle, we are concerned about this shortage.
We fear that the shortage could result in trucking companies hiring drivers who are inexperienced or otherwise unqualified and thus more likely to be involved in vehicular crashes. This shortage may have a particular influence on those traveling on Texas roadways, since the oil and gas market and need for transportation of related products, along with the need for increased transportation of construction materials to rebuild after the hurricane damage, will cause an even greater shortage of truck drivers in this state.
There has been some talk of lowering the driver age from 21 to 18 to help fill the vacancies, but experienced drivers balk at that idea. One truck driver pointed out that “Truck driving is no joke. You’re driving 80,000 pounds of machinery and you really have to be committed to this.”
As much as trucking companies may try to screen drivers and provide intensive driver training courses, there is still the potential for a driver new to his or her truck-driving career to have some problems navigating the highways. Even for experienced drivers, some of the most common causes of trucking accidents are due to driver error. Examples include:
- Making a sudden movement. This can cause the load to shift, resulting in loss of control of the rig, which then may cross over into another lane or may drive completely off the road.
- Driving too fast for road conditions. This can also cause the cargo to shift which in turn causes the truck to veer out of its lane.
- Evaluating braking time improperly. An inexperienced driver may have problems realizing the difficulty of stopping the 80,000-pound truck and be unable to stop quickly enough. This often results in chain reaction accidents.
- Drowsy or fatigued driving. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has determined that drivers who are drowsy or fatigued behave in similar ways as do those who are driving under the influence. Both conditions result in the driver having a sluggish response time which makes it difficult to assess dangers and take proper avoidance techniques.
- Using poor judgment. This happens when the truck driver drives too close behind the car ahead or turns or passes when it is not safe. These are actions that may be appropriate when they are driving a car, but not when they are driving the semi-trailer truck.
If you were injured in an accident involving a truck, at Springer & Lyle we understand what you are going through and want to help. Springer & Lyle has been representing clients throughout the North Texas area since 1985.