Bismarck State College Students Step Up to Address Trucker ShortageThe nationwide trucker shortage is causing concern for oil companies in North Dakota and the rest of the country. Oil companies and the trucking industry are trying different strategies to entice people to become truckers. One approach is to offer applicants trucking jobs with great pay and great benefits. Another strategy trucking companies are working on is the viability of self-driving trucks.

According to KX News, students at Bismarck State College are excited to be studying for their CDLs (commercial driver’s licenses). Many of the students have already lined up high-paying jobs, with their course manager saying the new truckers can earn a starting salary between $60,000 and $70,000. The manager, Brian Ellersick, said that just one year ago there were only 750 job openings in the North Dakota trucking sector. As of April 2021, that number has jumped to 1,400 jobs.

The reasons for the shortfall of commercial truck drivers

Midwest Motor Express, a trucking company located in Bismarck, said they’re experiencing shortages of local pickup/delivery drivers and long-haul drivers. The president of the company, Marlin Kling, expects that the shortage of truck drivers will continue to grow as the need for shipping across the country increases.

Further, the trucking industry is aging out. A 2019 report by the American Trucking Associations stated that “one of the largest factors [for the shortage] is the relatively high average age of the existing workforce. According to surveys by ATA, the average driver age in the for-hire over-the-road truckload industry is 46. Other trucking sectors have an even higher average age, like less-than-truckload and private carriers.”

Why truck companies are having difficulty attracting new drivers

According to Easyhaul.com, one of the reasons the trucking industry is struggling to get more drivers is the lifestyle. Truck drivers are on the road for long stretches of time. Many work 60 to 70 hours per week. They’re away from their families while they are on the road. Many truck drivers suffer from loneliness. It’s also a very sedentary job, which can increase the risk of certain health conditions.

Those long hours may also make it less attractive to mothers. About 94% of truck drivers are men. While fathers certainly miss their children while they are away, there are deeply ingrained social beliefs that mothers should stay home.

Finally, one of the major factors creating the truck driving shortfall are the dangers of the job. Many truck drivers operate their vehicles while they are tired due to the pressure to make deliveries – even though there are federal regulations that limit the hours truck drivers can be on the road. Truck drivers can be easily distracted due to the loneliness of the job. Driving distracted can include texting, talking on or using a smartphone, eating or drinking, or looking at a GPS system while driving.

In addition to head-on crashes, sideswipes, and other accidents all vehicles may be involved in, there are many types of accidents that are unique to truck drivers. Truck-driver accidents include rollovers, cargo spills, and jackknives, among other types of truck accidents.

Do drivers need a CDL to transport goods?

A commercial driver’s license is a requirement to drive most large trucks in North Dakota and across the country. There are different types of CDLs, depending on the type of truck you drive. Most drivers who work in the oilfield industry require a Class A license. According to CDL.com, Class A drivers operate vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more. Class A drivers can operate tractor-trailers, truck and trailer rigs, tank vehicles, and flatbed trucks.

Drivers must have a Class A CDL permit for two weeks or more before they can take the skills assessment test. The assessment test includes passing pre-inspection tests and “on the road” skills tests. Applicants also need to pass a general knowledge written test. Truck drivers may need CDL endorsements to driver the following types of trucks:

  • H: Transporting hazardous material
  • N: Operating a tank vehicle
  • X: Combination of transporting hazardous materials in a tank vehicle
  • T: Operating Double/Triple Trailers

CDL drivers must also have a non-commercial driver’s license. They must pass a medical examination, too. Normally CDL drivers must be 18 to drive within a state, and 21 or older to drive interstate (for example, distributing oil and other products to Wyoming, Oklahoma, and the rest of the nation). Truck drivers must also be 21 or older to transport hazardous materials within a state such as North Dakota.

The CDL course at Bismarck State College runs for three weeks, for people who enroll in the four-person course. The CDL training classes began in January 2021 thanks to a state commerce grant. Eight students, as of May 2021, were already driving truck. Ellersick said the June class is already full and there’s strong interest in the July classes.

Who holds liability for truck accidents?

When truck accidents occur, there are three types of possible claims – depending on the employment status of the driver, who is responsible, and whether the truck driver died or survived the accident:

  • Wrongful death We file wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of any truck driver killed in a North Dakota truck accident. We also represent the families of victims who were killed while in passenger vehicles, as well as the families of cyclists, pedestrians, and others.
  • Personal injury We file personal injury claims on behalf any independent contractors. We also file injury claims on behalf of all truck drivers, including employees, if a truck accident is due to a defective truck part.
  • Workplace injury If you are injured while working driving your truck – while you are an employee – you may have the right to file a North Dakota workplace injury claim.

The country needs qualified truck drivers to transport oil and other products throughout North Dakota and the country. However, the need for more drivers shouldn’t come at the expense of more accidents. Truck driving companies should be held accountable for the deaths and injuries they cause.

Larson Law Firm, PC is a strong advocate for any truck driver who is injured in a truck accident. We advise drivers and families of truck accidents in Minot, Bismarck, and throughout North Dakota. Contact us today at 701-484-HURT, or fill out the contact form to schedule a consultation.