Safety and the Shortage of Truck Drivers
Accidents involving big rigs and other commercial vehicles are on the rise around Stockton, and part of the problem may be the shortage of truck drivers. For example, a big rig in Stockton hauling a load of lumber went off the interstate back in May, spilling its cargo, and the truck caught fire. While some of these accidents can be attributed to increased big rig traffic on the freeways, others can be due to the shortage of drivers.
How Serious Is the Shortage?
According to the American Trucking Associations, there was a shortage of more than 60,000 drivers in 2018. This number is expected to double in the next 10 years. A shortage of long-haul drivers is especially important since those truckers are aging and spend weeks on the road. To combat this problem, there have been suggestions by regulators in at least one state to lower the driving age from 21 to 18 for drivers who are allowed to cross state lines. However, with more than 9,000 injuries and 4,761 fatalities due to collisions with big trucks reported in 2017, allowing inexperienced drivers behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound vehicle may compound the problem.
How the Shortage Contributes to Accidents
When a driver is behind the wheel of a big rig or other commercial vehicles, there is always the risk of an accident that causes serious injuries and/or fatalities. Some of the ways an accident can happen are:
- Drivers may be tempted to speed: Fewer drivers means that truckers may be pressed to make faster deliveries, and this can lead to speeding.
- Companies may hire poorly trained drivers: A poorly trained truck driver may not be capable of handling the multiple brakes on a big rig or have sufficient experience to avoid a rollover or jackknife accident. For example, a motor vehicle needs about 316 feet to stop, while a big rig requires a distance of 525 feet if both are traveling at 65 mph.
- Longer trips lead to tired drivers: Because of a shortage of truck drivers, those handling long-distance deliveries may cut short their rest periods. This could lead to an accident caused by a fatigued driver.
- Vehicle negligence: Maintenance is important to keep a big rig in top condition, and regular inspections are required. However, a company or driver may neglect maintenance in order to get a truck on the road faster.
- Falsification of logs: Falsifying a driver’s paper log is a common occurrence among truck drivers and may happen for a number of reasons. The driver may not have been allotted sufficient time to make a delivery, or loading of the truck may have been delayed. In some cases, those who get paid by the mile want to maximize their mileage.
- Drug use: Although alcohol use is not common among truck drivers, drug use is. This is due to the long hours behind the wheel and boredom along the way, so the driver wants to stay alert.
- Overloaded trucks: When fewer drivers are on the road, overloading the trucks can become a problem. Since an overloaded truck is more difficult to handle, it can lead to an accident. In addition, having brake failure or a tire blowout is more likely to occur.
What an Attorney Can Do for You
When you are involved in a truck accident, you need the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer. At our firm, we are ready to help. We will send our investigative team to the accident site to determine how the crash happened and who is at fault. We interview witnesses to the accident and obtain videos from traffic surveillance cameras and other sources. We also check truck logs to make sure that maintenance was done, and the driver was complying with other requirements. Once this is done, we release it to our legal team, who builds a case against the defendant.
Stockton Truck Accident Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Stockton truck accident lawyer. If you suffered an injury because of a negligent trucker, call me for free and friendly advice at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400. An online contact form is also available.
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