By John Cooper, Trucking Accident Attorney
A week seldom goes by without us reading about a terrible trucking accident somewhere in the country that has been caused by the driver of a big rig.
As a Virginia trucking accident attorney, I have to wonder if the chronic shortage of qualified truck drivers that’s currently plaguing the industry, is having an effect on the quality of drivers.
Bill O’Mara of Cooper Hurley talks about the trucker shortage
Despite high-profile attempts by trucking companies to recruit more drivers, interest appears to be waning in the trucking profession, at the same time as demand is growing for the services of drivers. I am concerned that too many poorly drivers are behind the wheel of these dangerous vehicles.
If a company hires a driver who fails to meet rigorous standards and he or she causes an accident, it can be subject to liability in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Trucking accidents are a regular occurrence in Virginia, and leave those involved with devastating injuries, while others even result in death. Many of the drivers who cause these accidents do not possess adequate training or qualifications to operate a multi-ton tractor-trailer. Some of them may have untreated medical conditions such as sleep apnea, which can be lethal when you are behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound vehicle.
The trucking industry is in need of 48,000 additional drivers to meet its needs. Recently we noted how the increase in demand associated with the improved economy has been linked to an upsurge in freight being transported by road.
In a recent report, USA News noted the trucking industry carried nearly 10 billion tons of freight in 2014 – more than two-thirds of all goods transported within the United States, according to American Trucking Associations, a national trade group. The amount of freight being transported around the nation is expected to rise almost 30 percent more by 2026.
However, the 15 percent increase in truck freight since the recession of 2007 has not led to many more drivers being recruited.
To fill such a large void, companies are hiring drivers with little to no experience operating commercial, long-haul vehicles. Logically, under-trained and inexperienced drivers are likely to make more mistakes on the roadways of Virginia than their more tenured co-workers. However, when mistakes are made by the drivers of tractor trailers, the consequences are often magnified to a much greater degree than in other motor vehicle accidents. Although we hope that companies consider the greater good of the public when making business decisions, the reality is that many focus only on the financial bottom line.
If you or a family member has been injured in a trucking accident, it is important that an investigation of the truck driver’s credentials is conducted to determine whether he or she possessed the proper qualifications and was provided the necessary training and safety protocols. The attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers are here to assist you in your investigation and, if needed, pursue legal action. Call us at 757.455.0077 for a free consultation.