The trucking industry is currently experiencing one of its greatest truck driver shortages in memory. According to the American Trucking Association, 30,000 additional commercial truck drivers are required to fill current and near-future vacancies within the industry. While some experienced drivers are simply retiring, many are choosing to switch professions because of the challenges that truckers often face with maintaining a work-life balance, low pay and changing federal regulations. An Illinois truck accident attorney understands that as the experienced drivers leave the roads, they are often replaced by inexperienced and sometimes improperly prepared truckers who should not be behind the wheel.
Hiring potentially dangerous drivers
With fewer truckers from which to choose, many carrier companies may feel as though they have little choice in who they hire. Federal regulations are clear about the rigorous testing process that known substance abusers must pass in order to regain their ability to drive. However, once these standards are met and truckers prove their sobriety, carriers have the legal authority to reinstate them. This has the potential to allow repeat offenders the opportunity to place many other motorists’ lives at risk. Ultimately, if carriers want to take the risk with potentially dangerous drivers, they are legally allowed to do so.
Pressure to haul illegally
The shortage of truck drivers has also exacerbated a dangerous practice that an Illinois truck accident attorney understands was already an issue in the trucking industry. Business Insider reports that due to the truck driver shortage, carrier companies may currently feel an increased pressure from their clients and their pocketbooks to get product transported as quickly as possible. As a result, many carriers ask their truckers to break federal regulations on driving limits or the amount of cargo they haul each load. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is tasked with ensuring that carrier companies and their truck drivers adhere to the laws which they have created in order to help regular motorists stay safe. These laws include restrictions on the amount of time truckers can spend driving each day and each week. Currently, truckers cannot drive more than 11 hours per day with a 30 minute rest period. When over-tired truck drivers and overloaded trucks are on the roads, motorists are more likely to be involved in serious accidents.
According to the FMCSA, there were 317,000 crashes in 2012 that involved a large truck. Of those accidents, 73,000 resulted in injury and another 3,464 were fatal. Unfortunately, these numbers continue to rise every year. As long as a shortage of competent, safe truck drivers remains, these accident numbers are not likely to improve.
Truck accident victims who need assistance with their claims should contact an Illinois truck accident attorney. Given the time sensitive nature of these claims, injured parties are encouraged to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.