In recent years, there has been a relative boom in the domestic commercial trucking industry. With diesel costs down and consumer spending up, freight delivery service remains highly competitive and in demand for retailers, suppliers and manufacturers around the country.
In fact, it has been difficult for trucking companies to secure the number of drivers they need in order to meet all of the shipment demands they currently have. Recent estimates from within the trucking industry indicate a shortage of roughly 60,000 drivers at the end of 2018, and many experts believe that demand will only increase.
That lack of available staffing means that the commercial drivers on the road are working longer hours and tougher routes as their employers try to make the most with the staff they currently have, which could contribute to employee stress and exhaustion. It also means that trucking companies may decide to hire people who don’t have the experience or driving record to prove they will be safe on the road.
The best drivers are in high demand and hard to hire
Commercial driving is a grueling industry that often requires long hours away from home, few breaks and manual labor when loading and unloading deliveries. Truckers risk social isolation, as well as injuries to their arms, legs, hips and back through the course of their work. They are also subject to intense employer scrutiny and more legal requirements than other drivers.
Professional drivers with excellent service and driving records can typically command top dollar and demand the routes that they prefer to drive. Companies actively compete to hire experienced drivers with solid, accident-free records. When there aren’t enough drivers with adequate experience and skill to go around, companies have to start bending their own hiring policies to fill vacant positions.
Companies may compromise and hire unsafe drivers
Most commercial trucking companies have strict standards when it comes to the driving record and criminal record of the people they hire. However, when companies can’t find enough new people, they may bend those rules to stay profitable.
Drivers with previous serious issues, such as impaired driving, could wind up working as a commercial driver despite their history. Companies may even hire and train brand new workers to help them secure their commercial driver’s licenses and get them on the road as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that means that drivers may be out on the road moving loads with no real experience other than school under their belts.
The problem with inexperienced drivers in commercial vehicles is that these large, heavy vehicles require more skill to operate than standard vehicles. They can pose substantial risks to the public, and crashes caused by commercial trucks often result in catastrophic damage to the other vehicles and severe injuries to their occupants.