Look around you. Almost everything you see was once on a truck.
Long haul or short haul, truck drivers are essential to our supply chain. Yet they do not receive the respect they deserve.
Their job is not easy. They require training, licensure, and certifications before they take the wheel of the big rigs. They need to maneuver their trucks through narrow city alleyways and over vast distances.
The ATA (American Truckers Association) which represents trucking companies, claims there is a shortage of truck drivers, and blame this shortage for empty store shelves.
Not so! say several well-known economists and representatives of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). They claim there are plenty of licensed truck drivers, but bad working conditions drive them away from the profession. Turnover rates at large trucking companies have averaged over 90% for decades!
Some of this turnover goes back to deregulation in the 1980s, which resulted in less pay and reduced bargaining power for drivers.
Much of the turnover is the result of the way truck drivers are treated – by trucking companies, customers, and society at large.
- Drivers are not paid when they are waiting for loads to be put on or taken off their trucks. There is no incentive for customers to value drivers’ time. More drivers on the road will just lead to more drivers in line, waiting to be loaded or unloaded.
- There is a lack of truck parking places, which can lead to more drive time searching for a spot, or parking in dangerous locations.
- Facilities for bathroom breaks and rest breaks are not always clean and available.
- Bad infrastructure, from poor roads to potholes and congestion, can lead to maintenance issues and delays.
- Drivers often suffer from health problems including musculoskeletal issues, and complications from a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. Injuries from loading and unloading are common.
- Long haul drivers are 10 times more likely to die, primarily from crashes, than workers in other occupations.
- Extreme weather events such as snowstorms, tornadoes, high wind, etc, are terrifying for the driver of an 18-wheeler.
- Drivers work long hours, often unpaid, and spend time away from their families and friends.
Truck drivers are essential to our society, and they deserve our respect. They are worthy of decent working conditions, safe and clean rest spaces, and compensation for all their time spend on the job, not just behind the wheel. Until truckers are treated as essential workers and paid a reasonable wage, there will be shortages of safe qualified drivers.
If you are a truck driver, and have been injured on the job, please call Putnam Law.