America has a trucking problem. On average, truck drivers are 8x more likely to be in a crash than anyone else on the road. But what’s driving this discrepancy? Why are there so many truck accidents, and what can we do to stop them? To find out, we need to take a closer look at the trucking industry itself.
How Many Accidents?
In 2018, there were more than 400,000 truck accidents across the country resulting in property damage or worse. This is especially frightening because there are only about 2.5 million truck drivers in the U.S. That means each truck driver has an almost 1-in-8 chance of being in an accident each year. If that sounds high, it’s because it is. The average car driver has a 2% chance of being in a crash each year.
Not only are these crashes common (making up about 5% of all motor vehicle accidents), they’re becoming deadlier. Trucking fatalities have increased by nearly 20% since 2010, and it seems that number could rise in the coming years.
More Crashes on the Way?
The trucking industry has one huge problem that may be contributing to this steady increase in crashes. About half of all truck drivers are approaching retirement age. Tens of thousands of experienced drivers are leaving the industry every year, and nobody is filling their place. This has already created a shortage of nearly 80,000 truck drivers, and that number may grow over the next five years.
Trucking isn’t as attractive as it once was. Many young people aren’t interested in long-distance driving and being away from home for so long, and those who do are leaving the industry just as quickly as they came. Over the past few years, the turnover rate for new truckers has been a steady 96%.
If there are fewer truckers on the road, why are truck crashes rising? It’s because those new drivers have significantly less training and experience than their older peers. That’s not a mistake; it’s by design.
Why Are Truckers Getting Less Training?
The trucking industry knows they’re facing a shortage. Over the past few years, trucking interest groups have successfully lobbied for relaxed requirements needed to earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Learning to drive a semi-truck was once a several-month process. Now, it can take less than a month.
The trucking industry calls the new CDL requirements for entry-level drivers, a “skills-based” approach. This means there are no required “classroom” or theory hours where aspiring truckers learn the basics. A truck driver who feels confident in their knowledge can take the written test at any time. As long as they score an 80% or higher, they earn their permit.
Likewise, the number of hours required to take the driving test has been significantly reduced. Once a truck driver has 30 hours of behind-the-wheel experience, they can take their final skills test.
Do Trucker’s Need Better Training?
Something in the trucking industry needs to change. Truck accidents and fatalities keep going up. Experienced drivers are retiring and being replaced with new and inexperienced drivers who rarely stay in the same job for more than two years. Without urgent changes, it seems more and more people will be seriously injured or worse over the next decade.
When someone is seriously or even killed by a large truck, it’s crucial they and their family have a truck accident attorney on their side. An attorney with experience handling truck accident cases can support you throughout the process, negotiate on your behalf, and take care of the busy work so you can focus on moving forward.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a car crash, you might have a case. To discuss your case with an experienced Maryland truck accident attorney from Portner & Shure, P.A., don’t hesitate to call (855) 954-4141 or send us an email.