A Truck Driver Shortage Makes Roads Less Safe
For the past few years, the U.S. has been in the midst of a shortage of long haul truck drivers. There are many different factors that have been postulated as reasons why, from a general aging out of many drivers, to a disinclination of younger people to take a job that requires they spend so much time away from home. However, one major byproduct of this shortage is that U.S. roads are now demonstrably less safe than they were when professional truckers drove the lion’s share of shipments. It is important to understand the potential hazards of road trips in Florida, as 18-wheelers and other large trucks are very common sights.
The Shortage Is Getting Dire
The American Trucking Association reports that approximately 70 percent of all freight tonnage shipped in the United States goes on trucks. To move such numbers, approximately 3.5-3.6 million trucks and truck drivers are estimated to be required, and there are simply not that many drivers working right now. 2016 figures estimated the overall shortage at approximately 36,500 drivers, with numbers rising to near 63,000 in 2018. Meanwhile, tonnage continues to rise, albeit slowly.
Trucking companies are trying to bridge the gap with incentives and higher pay, but the way that most of the tonnage is getting moved is because companies are hiring anyone who will do the job, with less oversight or quality control as to whether or not the people they are hiring are actually qualified. Because the press to meet deadlines and quotas is so severe, people with no experience are allowed to drive 18-wheelers, which means that dangerous drivers are on the roads, and many motorists are unaware of this. That actively impedes a motorist’s ability to protect themselves.
If You Are Injured
Truck accidents are sadly common in Florida, with over 500 reported in 2017 alone. If you are involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, you may have several different options to explore in terms of seeking compensation for your injuries. Most trucking accidents do have some percentage of driver error involved, especially since many trucking companies will push their drivers beyond the suggested limits, as given in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, in order to get the job done more quickly. However, if you only sue a negligent driver, you may not get much in the way of compensation, because an individual driver will largely be judgment-proof (in other words, insolvent enough where they have no ability to pay compensation).
Florida allows you to sue the trucking company in addition to the trucker in most cases, under a theory called vicarious liability. Vicarious liability, also called respondeat superior, is when an employer can be held liable for the tortious acts of their employee if that employee is acting within the scope of employment. In other words, if an employee is on the job at the time they cause an accident or are somehow involved in another tortious act, their employer can generally be held liable – and most of the time, if a trucker is in an accident on the road, they are either hauling a load or driving to pick up a new one.
Ask A Knowledgeable Attorney For Help
While the trucker shortage is projected to worsen over the next decade or so, it is still possible for the average driver to protect themselves. If you have been involved in an accident with a large truck, contacting an attorney is one good way to ensure your interests are protected. The Tampa truck accident lawyers at the Rinaldo Law Group can try to help answer any questions you may have and provide input on where you should go from here. Call us today for a free consultation.