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Truck driver shortage creates risks out on the road

Commercial trucking plays an important role for the local and national economy. If you gaze out on a freeway, it is not difficult to spot a commercial 18-wheeler truck rolling down the road moving cargo and products. As easy as it may be to find a commercial truck out on the road, there should be even more. Right now, there are plenty of positions for commercial drivers nationally. The estimates range from 63,000 to as many as 100,000 open positions that can be filled.

For those people searching for employment, seeing this amount of open positions in the trucking industry can be encouraging. But there is something else to consider. Driving a commercial vehicle can be a very dangerous occupation. There are several factors this:

1. Less drivers on the road creates an added risk of danger to current drivers. One of the biggest problems is companies experiencing delays with shipments. To combat delays, current drivers could be pushed to dangerous physical levels in an effort for on time deliveries. Federal regulations allow no more than 11 hours of driving within a 14-hour period. A driver must not work over 70 hours over eight consecutive days. A drowsy driver can be very dangerous in such a large truck out on the road.

2. The shortage of truck drivers means the chances of hiring an inexperienced driver behind the wheel is enhanced. When there is a larger pool of drivers to choose from, companies can find the best fit for the kind of driver they need. Some new drivers may be asked to take on assignments more experienced drivers usually do.

3. Driving a commercial truck has many health risks associated with it. Long hours of sitting at the wheel increases the chances of heart disease or even diabetes. The general lack of exercise and a nutritional diet can also cause health concerns. Even if a driver is in top physical shape, there is always the risk of an accident. Inclement weather, distracted drivers and unfamiliar locations can all play a part in causing an accident.

It is a long way to catch up to the number of drivers that are needed right now in the trucking industry and the gap is only widening. The job growth of commercial tractor-trailer drivers is forecasted to expand 6 percent in the next decade. With no end in sight, the factors listed above could continue to make commercial driving a dangerous profession for many years to come.

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