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Is the trucker shortage leading to unqualified drivers?

The trucking industry has a big problem right now. There are a lot more trucking jobs available than there are drivers, and the situation is only getting worse.

How bad is the national truck driver shortage? Industry analysts say that only one truck is available per dozen loads that need to be shipped. Things may get even worse around the holidays this year. It's estimated that around 900,000 more truckers are needed on the road.

Why are there so few truckers even though the pay is substantial? The shortage continues for a number of reasons, including:

  • A booming internet economy, which is increasing the number of goods being shipped.
  • The trucking lifestyle, which includes long periods away from home, is unattractive to many.
  • Seasoned drivers are "aging out" as they reach retirement, and there aren't enough young people interested in the job.
  • Few women are interested in trucking positions, so that limits the pool of possible drivers.

In addition, many current truckers are unhappy with new regulations that require electronic logs for their hours. It's a safety feature that seasoned drivers say is unnecessarily rigid and impairs their ability to function.

Could the shortage be dangerous? Possibly.

A lot of attention has been focused on the shortage of truckers, which is certainly dangerous to the nation's economy -- but it may also be dangerous to the safety of everyone on the road. As trucking companies become increasingly desperate for bodies to fill their job vacancies, they may be willing to take chances on drivers who are unqualified and inadequately trained for their jobs.

A new driver does have to meet certain qualifications to get a commercial driver's license (CDL). However, the reality is that it only takes a learner's permit and the ability to pass a skills test -- which includes a vehicle inspection test, road test and basic controls test -- to get a CDL. A newly-licensed truck driver, just like a newly-licensed teenage driver, often lacks the real world driving experience that's necessary to navigate a highway safely -- especially over a long haul.

Anyone who is injured in a trucking accident would be wise to suspect the possibility that an inexperienced driver is behind the wheel of the truck. The likelihood of that happening is bound to increase until the trucking shortage abates.

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