There’s a major shortage of truck drivers in America. Due to that, there are many inexperienced drivers on the road. Deadly accidents involving trucks are also on the rise (up 11 percent from 2010 to 2015) and trucking transportation occupations accounted for more work-related fatalities than any other profession in 2015. Driver training programs have also come into question when looking at reasons behind these accidents.
How Large is the Shortage?
According to American Trucking Associations, the shortage at the beginning of 2018 was 51,000 drivers. That’s a significant increase from just two years prior, when the shortage was around 36,000 drivers. A changing economy and popular services like Amazon Prime that promise fast delivery are causing the issue. Employers are offering signing bonuses, wage raises, and other incentives (like giving drivers more opportunities to be at home), but many businesses fear that it won’t be enough to slow down the shortage wave.
Despite the shortage, the median pay for a heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver was $42,480 in 2017. That’s not a bad salary for a job that doesn’t require a college degree, and many experts believe that number will be closer to $50,000 by 2020. However, for an industry where the demand for drivers greatly outweighs the supply, a higher wage may be necessary to attract more drivers.
Are New Drivers Getting Adequate Training?
In an effort to try to get new workers on the road, a potential truck driver can pass the exam for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with just three to four weeks of training. This can lead some to question whether it’s enough formal training. The leading causes of truck accidents are faulty equipment (mainly tires and brakes), distracted driving, driver fatigue and inadequate training.
As with any education, there are good and bad truck driver training schools. More reputable ones will allow you to stay past the three-to-four-week training period if students need work in a particular area before taking the exam. Others will also allow recruits to retrain with them if they fail the CDL test.
In addition, just like any other industry, there are good and bad truck companies. Many will hire a driver with a new CDL and put them through a paid, months-long, training period where they continue to work on maneuvers and shadow more experienced drivers until they feel they’re ready to head out on their own.
However, some schools and employers do not go to any of these lengths to make sure a driver is qualified to operate a truck before he’s put on the road alongside millions of Americans.
For example, one truck driver school in Florida was shut down by the state, with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles writing that the company’s “practices posed an immediate serious danger to…public health, safety, and welfare.” Some of the infractions that were found by the investigation included: ignoring difficult parts of the CDL test, tampering with CDL skills test score sheets and conducting fraudulent testing activities. The state forced 1,500 graduates from that program to retake and pass the CDL test or face a loss of license.
There are sure to be other instances of “schools” like this, so you need to protect yourself and get informed if you are the victim of an accident involving a tractor trailer.
If you have been injured or a loved one has died due to a crash caused by an inexperienced truck driver, you deserve to be compensated. At Stewart & Stewart, we know what it takes to get our clients the money they deserve, and we will work hard to get that for you. For more information, give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.