While you may be used to driving alongside large trucks on a daily basis, you may not realize the dangers associated with them. Tractor trailers require qualified, licensed professionals to operate them. However, an increasing number of trucker positions go unfilled every year. This truck driver shortage may pose risks to drivers in Kentucky and across the U.S.
According to the American Trucking Association, the number of unfilled truck driver positions increased to a surprising 60,800 in 2018. This is a rise of more than 10,000 from the year prior. The ATA expects that the number will increase to 160,000 during the next decade.
Factors leading to the shortage
There are several factors that contribute to the truck driver shortage, including the following:
- Time away from family does not appeal to potential truckers
- Existing truckers are growing older
- Existing laws limit potential truckers
The average age for truckers is 46, and as they near retirement age, experts believe the shortage will grow. Despite active marketing aimed to draw new truck drivers, including women drivers, potential truckers are choosing jobs that allow them to stay home with their families and offer competitive pay. Some states are trying to lower the required age of truckers to 18 years in order to gain more truck driver applicants.
What this means
Trucking companies struggle to keep up with demand when there are less qualified truckers to deliver their loads. Although federal laws limit the amount of time truckers can spend behind the wheel without taking a break, some companies push drivers to stay behind the wheel in violation of those laws. This increases the likelihood of drowsy, distracted and drunk truckers.
Furthermore, some trucking companies allow truckers who have violations or who have suspended licenses to continue delivering loads. All of these factors put motorists at risk of becoming involved in a deadly car accident.