Washington in Desperate Need for Truck Drivers

Portrait of a truck driver
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Portrait of a truck driver
Trucks are left idling in Washington as they wait for their assigned drivers. This scene is repeated in almost every state in the nation — making delays in deliveries all but unavoidable. Trucking companies are asking the government for assistance and policy changes that could remedy the situation.

Aggressive Drive to Meet Deadlines

Trucking companies are fiercely competing with each other to fill up their rosters, and some companies are resorting to hiring previously disqualified drivers. Trucking attorneys are constantly handling situations of truck-related accidents as these occurrences reach all-time highs.

Trucking-related fatalities in the U.S. in 2016 reached 4,369, and that number only rose to 4,761 in 2017. The statistics for 2018 have yet to be released, but the pattern of the two previous years suggest an upward trend. Trucking companies are overworking their drivers to fulfill delivery schedules.

Lack of sleep and fatigue figure prominently in most accidents, as do speeding and reckless driving. Fatigue or rushing to meet a deadline can lead to inattention or reckless driving. More than a quarter of truck-related fatalities involve truck drivers with one or more speeding violations.

No Young Ones to Replace the Old-timers

The surging U.S. economy partly causes the shortage of truck drivers. The lower taxes on businesses and softer regulations — brought about by the Trump presidency — has led to a revitalized manufacturing and construction industry.

Greater demand for the manufacturing and construction industry contributed to the larger demand on the transportation industry. However, retirement plays a bigger role on the truck driver shortage. Experienced drivers are reaching the age of retirement — and very few people are filling their shoes.

Beginner truck drivers can start their career with salaries that reach $40,000 in their first year — reaching $60,000 or more within a few years. However, truck driving is seen as an unglamorous job — especially to millennials who prefer light office jobs.

truck driver on radio communication device

Seeking the Government’s Help

The trucking industry is seeking the government’s help by lowering the age requirement for out-of-state driving. Truck drivers normally cross state lines and the minimum age that allows that is 21.

The American Trucking Association (ATA) is supporting a bill that lowers the minimum age for out-of-state driving to 18. This bill, introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, is also supported by the International Foodservice Distributors Association. The lower age limit will allow high school graduates to start their career in truck driving immediately.

The extra 3 years needed to qualify for a trucking job is discouraging to young people who would often turn to trades with less stringent requirements like manufacturing or construction. The ATA also asked for more support for trade schools that provide training for commercial driving licenses.

The shortage in trucking is stifling economic growth to a certain extent, and trucking companies can do little to ease the situation. Less stringent rules regarding age and driving can mitigate the situation, but ultimately — trucking companies must do their utmost in convincing young workers to choose a career in truck driving.

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