The trucking industry has experienced a severe shortage of qualified drivers for years. The pandemic has only made things worse. In fact, the trucking industry lost 6% of its workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Forbes. By 2030, the industry is expected to be short roughly 160,000 workers.
Unfortunately, this shortage increases the risk of accidents. The industry is employing more older and younger drivers, who are more likely to get into a crash. And they are putting pressure on drivers to get to their destination faster. If you were hurt in a trucking collision, contact Wetherington Law Firm, P.C. today to speak with our Macon truck accident lawyer.
More Older Drivers on the Road
Truck drivers used to routinely retire around age 65. But over the past decades, the industry has enticed more drivers to continue hauling into their 70s and 80s—and sometimes even beyond. They’ve had to. Not enough newer drivers are coming up the ranks.
However, older drivers are at a greater risk of causing a crash. One study from 2016 showed a nearly 20% increase in accidents involving drivers 70+ over a brief, three-year period. Truck drivers must pass regular physical exams before they can get behind the wheel, but an exam can’t catch all health problems, and some trucking companies might fudge the results. With the shortage of experienced truckers, more older drivers are working well into old age.
Opening Up the Industry to Those Under 21
The trucking industry is also supplementing the ranks of truck drivers by getting those under 21 behind the wheel. Before 2022, a driver had to be at least 21 to drive a truck in interstate commerce. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has started a pilot program that allows individuals aged 18, 19, and 20 to begin hauling across state lines. Truckers need to register as part of an apprenticeship program and are limited as to what they can haul.
This Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program will provide badly needed drivers to many trucking companies. Still, inexperienced drivers are a risk to others.
Pressure on Drivers
With a shortage of drivers, it’s not surprising that some companies are pushing their current employees much too hard. The federal government limits the maximum number of hours a trucker can work and drive. Still, many truckers report feeling pressure to go over these limits. When drivers feel pressured, they often misjudge their own speed and end up going well over the speed limit. Others might intentionally speed to make a deadline.
This risky behavior endangers public safety. Fatigue, speeding, and illegal lane changes cause many accidents. To cope with stress, other truckers might turn to illegal drugs or alcohol, which also impair their ability to drive safely.
Hurt in a Truck Wreck? Contact Us
Wetherington Law Firm can handle a truck accident claim in Macon from start to finish. Trucking companies are never eager to pay top compensation, so experienced legal assistance is a big benefit. To learn more, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.