Transport Topic News ran a story recently that a national shortage of truck drivers is forcing shipping delays, which can affect consumer prices. Driver shortages also increase the risk that truck accidents can occur – as shipping companies pressure existing drivers to be on the road more than they should.
According to John Esparza, the President of the Texas Trucking Association, thousands of truckloads of sand are required to “prop open formations in a single well.” Across the country, drillers needed nearly 14 million tons of sand in the fourth quarter of 2017 alone, according to BP Capital Fund Advisors.
The report focused on oil fields in San Antonio, but the same analysis applies to oil fields in North Dakota. Shortfalls mean delayed production, and longer shipping times for crude production. It often means that companies – and drivers – will feel pressure to cut corners where they can. Since oil trucks are exempt from some of the regulations of other drivers, this can create a real hazard on the road.
The scope of the truck driver shortage
The American Trucking Association asserts that the current shortage of qualified tractor-trailer drivers is 50,000. The organization expects that number to swell to 174,000 by 2016. FTR Transportation Intelligence claims that if Class 8 trucks are included, the number grows to a 270,000 shortage for the second quarter in 2018. Class 8 includes heavy trucks.
The reasons for the shortage of truck drivers include the following:
- The pay rate just hasn’t risen with inflation. US Labor Department statistics show that the median pay for long-haulers is $42,000 a year. Private carriers pay as much as $90,000 for drivers with a lot of experience. Drivers complain they have to pay for insurance and maintenance which takes a lot of money out of their pockets.
- The current workforce is retiring at a high rate, and isn’t being replenished at the same pace. The median age, according to the American Trucking Association, of private fleet drivers is 52.
- Truck driving is a tough job that takes workers away from their families. Nearly 94% of all truck drivers are men. The hours are long, hard, and lonely.
- Autonomous trucks that could help ease the load have many legal and technical challenges to overcome before they are a viable alternative.
The news story also claims government regulations interfere with the truck driving experience. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations do help to avoid accidents and protect drivers. For example, the FMCSA requires that truck drivers and shipping companies monitor the number of hours a driver is on the road. Tired drivers can cause fatalities, catastrophic, and severe injuries. The FMCSA recently required that trucking companies and drivers use electronic logging devices to keep track of driver hours. The ELD devices monitor time even when the driver is waiting for the load to be placed on the truck.
Trucking companies are trying to address the shortage. Better pay can help. There’s a push to allow military veterans to qualify easier for commercial truck driving assignments, and to lowering the age for obtaining a CDL. Many drivers say more respect for how hard their job is would help.
Tractor-trailer, semis, rigs, and other large vehicles often cause deaths and catastrophic injuries. Many victims never fully recover or have a long road to recovery. If a loved one was killed in a truck accident, you need experienced and respected injury lawyers on your side. The North Dakota truck accident attorneys at Larson Law Firm, P.C. are tough advocates who will fight to get you compensation for all your economic losses, medical bills, and pain and suffering. For help now, call our Minot office at 701-484-4878, or complete our contact form.