Is the Trucker Shortage Causing Deadly Crashes?

  • If you have any knowledge about the trucking industry, you know that it is currently suffering from a massive shortage of workers--a shortage that is not likely to improve anytime soon. While trucking school is not a long-term or expensive commitment, and most truckers have a higher salary than the average worker, the trucking industry is still losing more workers than it gains each year. In fact, currently, it is estimated that there is now an industry shortage of over 100,000 drivers.

     

    The main question people have when they hear the stats about this problem is, "What is the reason for this shortage of workers?"

     

    Well, there are many reasons for the shortage, but the main problem seems to be the high turnover rate in the trucking industry. In 2017 the turnover rate for truck drivers was 87%. This number did not improve in 2018, and in 2019, the turnover rate continues to be an issue.

     

    That leads to the question, "what is causing the high turnover rate?"

     

    There are many reasons that truckers quit the industry after a short period of time. Here are a few of the most common ones they cite:

    • Long hours: Truckers have to work many long hours and days, and these long hours take them away from their homes and familes. The average trucker drives over 100,000 miles each year. For truckers with families, this creates a difficult trade-off, as they miss out on important family moments. Even with better pay, for many truckers, this price is just too high.
    • Age: Many older drivers are retiring. The problem is that millennials are just not that interested in the profession. As older drivers retire, there are simply not enough younger drivers being trained to take their place.
    • Occupational Hazards: Trucking can be very dangerous work, as getting into a crash can often prove fatal or cause serious injuries. Many drivers report feeling exhausted due to being forced to work long hours, and exhaustion can lead to more crashes.
    • Regulations: Due to newer regulations about how many hours a driver can log per week, many drivers who want to work more are not allowed to. This creates a further need for more drivers.

     

    While people may not think much about the truck driver shortage, it does impact the average person in a couple of ways. First, we need truckers, because they transport many goods that we depend on for day-to-day life. If the trucker shortage continues to rise, we may see an increase in price for basic goods. The second reason is that the shortage of drivers makes existing drivers more likely to get into crashes. When people get into a crash with a truck, they are very likely to be injured or even killed. There are a few reasons that the trucker shortage is leading to more crashes, including:

    • Drowsy driving: Since many drivers work extra hours in order to help make up for the trucker shortage, they may end up driving while tired. Many people don't realize it, but drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. Exhausted drivers show similar slowed reaction times to drivers who are drunk.
    • Longer shifts: As truckers work longer shifts because of the industry shortage, they end up being more vulnerable to distractions. Distracted driving also leads to slowed reactions and more crashes. 
    • Inexperienced drivers: Since companies are in need of drivers, they are more likely to hire new drivers without much experience. 
    • Unqualified drivers: Because of the shortage of drivers a lot of companies end up hiring drivers with problematic driving records, because they simply don't have any alternative candidates. 

     

    The problem of the trucker shortage is something that will have to be addressed in upcoming years. While there is no one solution to the issue, it is important that companies and drivers make sure they don't take undo risks that make crashes more likely.