How does the truck driver shortage increase the risk of an 18 wheeler accident in America? Does the shortage encourage large-truck drivers to cut corners and take unnecessary risks? The reality is that fewer people are becoming truck drivers at the same time that the amount of freight transported across the country rises. This is encouraging drivers to engage in risky behaviors, including speeding, drowsy driving, and aggressive driving to meet delivery schedules. The crash data reflects this risk and serves as a warning that all motorists should heed.
The Truck Driver Shortage in the United States
As of 2018, the trucking industry had a driver deficit of 60,800, an increase of more than 10,000 from 2017. Studies conducted by the American Trucking Associations estimated that over the next decade, that number would swell to 160,000 or higher. The reality is that the industry is poised for a wave of retirements, and fewer people are eager to spend their careers cruising down the road in an 18 wheeler.
In 2012, nearly 10,092 million tons of freight traveled over American roads. That rose to 10,776 in 2015. By 2045, that number is expected to reach approximately 14,829 million tons. This increase in over the road transports is creating enormous pressure on truck drivers to drive faster, haul more, and cut corners to meet delivery schedules. It's a problem that will only worsen as the driver shortage deepens, and an increasing amount of commerce is conducted via online services that depend on trucks to get their packages to the front door of the consumer.
Increased Pressure Leads to Dangerous Behaviors
In 2017, 252 of the 4,600 large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes tested positive for at least one drug. However, this may be much higher because 59% of drivers in fatal accidents were not tested for the presence of either prescription or illegal drugs.
Driver related factors were involved in causing 32% of all fatal large truck collisions in 2017. These include speeding (6.5%), distracted driving (5.7%), failure to yield right of way (4.5%), or impairment through fatigue, alcohol consumption, or illness (4%). Careless driving was recorded in 4% of fatal large truck accidents, failure to obey traffic control signals and signs (2.7%), and following too closely (2.1%).
The bottom line is that large truck drivers who are in a hurry to meet tight delivery schedules are more likely to engage in these dangerous driving behaviors. More deliveries = higher profits, but the price that motorists, pedestrians, and the drivers themselves pay is often a steep one.
Contact Brad Pistotnik Law at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400. It is our pleasure to schedule a free consultation about your 18 wheeler accident in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, or Texas. Day or night, holidays or weekends, we are available to answer your questions. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can reach Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237.