As truck carriers lose experienced drivers due to low wages and burnout, they are often forced to hire inexperienced drivers who are far less likely to have the knowledge to deal with a variety of dangerous road situations.
Per a piece on HDT Truckinginfo: (2) “…but trucking companies hiring inexperienced drivers may be opening themselves up to more risk than it’s worth. When hiring someone this green, it is critical to consider the cost of hiring, training, and retaining this driver along with the possible negligent hiring suits you [truck carrier] could be opening the door to should the driver be involved in a serious accident.”
The reason is that motorists who suffer injuries caused by an inexperienced truck driver could file a negligence claim that the truck carrier “didn’t hire drivers of acceptable competency, or that the federally mandated paperwork is incomplete.”
Truck drivers have many things to deal with when they are driving vehicles that weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds that play by different rules than that of a passenger vehicle.
For example, according to Trucking Truth, (3) when a truck driver doubles the speed of a truck, it will take four times as much distance to stop, and the truck will have “four times the destructive power if it crashes. High speeds increase stopping distances greatly. By slowing down a little, you can gain a lot in reduced braking distance.”
But inexperienced drivers do not have prior knowledge to understand how their vehicles will react in dangerous situations, and as a result, they tend to make decisions that worsen a situation, instead of diffusing it.
And with the increasing need for more drivers, truck carriers have been pushing federal regulators to allow them to hire drivers who are under 21 years of age.
Currently, commercial truck drivers who want to drive across state lines must be 21 to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
In 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created a three-year pilot program to test young truck drivers under the age of 21.
The goal is to determine whether these drivers can drive safely enough for the FMCSA to lift the age restriction on interstate truck driving.
Either way, it is clear that the truck driver shortage will continue to be a challenge not only for truck carriers but also for motorists with whom they share the road.