Over the next 10 years, 96,000 people each year are going to need to embark upon careers as qualified truck drivers. This is not likely to happen. If it does not, Trucks.com reports that the unprecedented staffing shortage which already exists within the trucking industry is going to get exponentially worse. There is too much demand for truck drivers and not enough truck drivers to fill the demand. This is leading to problems.
Trucking companies and drivers are sometimes unable to meet demand. Truckers, as a result, may feel pressured to violate rules aimed at preventing drowsy driving. These rules limit the number of hours per day a trucker can drive. Unfortunately, some truckers break the rules so they can try to get more deliveries done on time since there are not enough drivers.
Compromises may also have to be made in hiring when trucking companies are desperate for workers. Currently, there are big concerns among safety advocates about trucking companies increasingly hiring and relying upon senior citizens to drive trucks. Older seniors may not have the ability to drive as effectively as younger people, but trucking companies may still rush to hire them simply because these trucking companies are eager to find anyone who has a commercial license and nominal qualifications.
CBS reported recently that there are grave concerns about senior truck drivers increasingly making up an ever larger part of the trucking workforce. Trucking companies tend to claim this is not a problem, even insisting they are bound to hire seniors so they are not in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws. However, safety advocates are arguing that these trucking companies have become so desperate for staff, the companies are not self-regulating and may be hiring seniors who are not actually capable of doing the job correctly.
Safety advocates have reason for worry as older truckers hold huge numbers of jobs within the trucking industry and young people don't generally apply. In the past three years alone, a 19 percent increase has occurred in truck accidents caused by drivers who are in their 70s, their 80s, and even their 90s! Older truck drivers, as a group, generally tend to have slower reaction times and age-related declines in cognitive function, vision, flexibility, and reflexes. While there are exceptions, safety advocates argue there needs to be a federal standard to determine if a senior truck driver is going to present a danger or not.
Regardless of whether any federal standard actually ends up coming about or not, trucking companies still have a responsibility to make sure they hire only qualified candidates and to ensure all truckers who work for them are able to drive with an appropriate level of skill and ability. If a driver fails to drive the truck safely and causes a crash, a trucking company could potentially be held liable for resulting damages that occurred due to either the company or driver's negligence.