ndustries across the nation are suffering from a scarcity of people willing to drive semi-trucks. The trucking shortage affects the entire nation, as companies struggle to find talent to fill open positions. This particularly affects interstate and long-haul trucking, because workers don’t want to leave their families for long periods. The trucking shortage has implications all over the country but especially in California. The trucking shortage means more than slower access to goods; other motorists on the road may be at risk – find out why.
The Trucking Shortage Creates Unrealistic Expectations
Trucking companies often set strict deadlines for deliveries, and failure to make them may result in docking a worker’s pay. This creates a stressful situation for workers in an occupation that already has its fair share of stress. To make deadlines, truckers may be more likely to work longer hours, sleep less, and skip out on breaks to make deliveries on time.
On the other hand, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets strict rules that all trucking companies and their employees must follow. These include maximums for daily hours on the road, mandated breaks, and even mandated rest time. Unfortunately, truck drivers are more likely to break their duty hours to meet a deadline set by their employer. With a trucking shortage so severe, it can be difficult for drivers to reconcile the demands of their companies with federal laws.
A Stressful Work Environment Can Contribute to Negligence
Secondly, a worker’s job-related stress may lead them to take drastic measures that he or she might not otherwise consider. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver error is the number one cause of accidents involving commercial trucks. This can relate to several factors, including speeding, distracted driving, or driving under the influence. Any of these factors may be more likely during a trucking shortage. For example, a truck driver may take prescription or illicit drugs for a “boost” to take him or her through a long shift, or a driver may cope with the stresses of the job by drinking. These behaviors pose a danger to everyone else on California’s roadways and can contribute to more life-threatening accidents.
An Unfair Model of Pay Creates a Dangerous Situation
One of the main problems driving the trucking shortage is the method by which truck drivers receive compensation. Truck drivers often receive pay by miles logged, not by the hour. It’s not difficult to see how this could pose a danger to serious drivers – the pay model essentially encourages truck drivers to speed to make more money. Additionally, this model of pay does not account for breakdowns, traffic, and other unforeseen circumstances that could cause a driver to delay a delivery.
Few companies pay by the hour, but research on the subject is telling. According to Dupre Logistics, one of the only pay-by-the-hour trucking companies in the nation, their crash numbers plummeted after switching models. They pay by the hour, not the mile, which allows their drivers to complete shorter stints on the road. This allows them to be compliant with federal regulations and provide a desirable work environment for their employees. In fact, they’re not suffering the effects of the trucking shortage at all – they have a waiting list for employees.
What’s the Solution?
The federal government estimates that the nation is short around 35,000 truckers. Perhaps switching the mode of pay is the best way to change this. By allowing truckers to work by the hour, they could drive in shorter shifts while making the same amount of money. This would discourage duty-hour violations, discourage speeding, and create an emphasis on trucker well-being. As a result, truckers could drive more carefully, experience less fatigue, and contribute to fewer accidents. Considering that commercial vehicle accidents often involve serious or fatal injury, it seems like a choice worth considering.