Trucking industry sees rise in job openings, crashes

Published: Feb. 15, 2020 at 11:00 AM CST
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Over the last 15 years, the trucking industry has struggled to find enough drivers. As the need to fill spots grow, many large company fleets will hire new or inexperienced drivers.

The interstate system is full of trucks, crisscrossing the country. We looked at the numbers and deaths from crashes are slowly rising.

This at a time when experienced drivers are retiring more and more, and inexperienced drivers are taking their place.

“To be quite honest Omaha is the worst city to drive these things in,” said John Wells. He has been driving for 9 years and he owns his own trucking company.

“Driving is a very serious thing and in an instant, you can be gone,” said Wells.

He has driven a half-million miles incident-free, a nearly impossible goal for inexperienced drivers. Wells believes many accidents involving semis involve two things.

“I would say a lot of crashes are started with inexperience and started form distractions,” said Wells.

So, why so many inexperienced drivers? According to the trucking industries website, the industry is struggling to fill spots

In 2019, there were about 60,000 openings. That’s why making these trucks safe as possible is crucial, something potential drivers need to know.

“The DOT currently is reviewing safety requirements and log requirements so we are hoping changes are made,” said Wells.

Wells says even when a semi is not necessarily at fault for an accident, it will be litigated.

His company and drivers take no chances, especially with distractions...being on your phone? Big no...

“It’s a fine of $10,000 dollars just to the company, the DOT is very serious about eliminating this issue,” said Wells.

Another challenge, those who consider semis a nuisance, passing them and cutting them off, or keeping them from merging.

Its driving behaviors like that, Wells says make it dangerous for the inexperienced driver.

“We want to go home too we work really hard on running safe equipment,” said Wells.

The American Trucking Association study predicts the shortage of drivers will triple by 2026.

We mentioned the rising number of deaths involving large trucks in the country. And here they are, you can see since 2015 they have steadily risen to more than 5,200 in 2018.