California Trucker Shortage Accidents
The U.S. is facing a massive truck driver shortage. Trucking companies are currently down about 60,000 drivers, and estimates suggest that the shortage could reach over 160,000 by 2028. This problem doesn’t just impact the trucking industry and consumers. It also poses a serious threat to the motorists who share the road with trucks every day.
When the pool of truck drivers shrinks, existing truckers are left with the job of picking up the slack. That means they’re on the roads more often and for longer periods of time, which can contribute to driver fatigue. Trucking companies may also put pressure on drivers to deliver their goods more quickly, resulting in crashes caused by speeding. Both of these are common causes of California truck accidents.
Injuries from truck wrecks are often severe. They are painful, expensive to treat, and sometimes life-changing. If you’ve been hurt in a truck accident in California, you need a proven attorney who knows how to fight for maximum compensation for your losses.
How Bad Is The Truck Driver Shortage In The U.S.?
Signs of a truck driver shortage were spotted 15 years ago and have only continued to worsen. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the current shortage of 60,800 truck drivers increased by 10,000 over just one year.
One of the reasons for the shortage is that older drivers are retiring, especially long-haul truckers who are on the roads for weeks at a time. Truck companies are also having trouble recruiting women into driving positions and encouraging younger drivers to join the workforce.
Historically, for every four drivers that retired, the trucking industry would recruit three young drivers. Today, companies only recruit one driver out of every four. That new driver needs to be properly trained before operating a truck on his/her own. Even more specialized training will be required for permission to transport hazardous materials, drive school buses, or operate tank vehicles.
Industry leaders also say that the requirement for truckers to be 21 before receiving their commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) for interstate travel is contributing to the shortage. They say that the three-year wait for licensure pushes younger people to go into other occupations out of high school instead of considering trucking as a career option.
What a U.S. Trucker Shortage Means For California Motorists
California already has a poor reputation for truck accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) lists California among the top 10 states in the nation with the highest average of fatal truck accidents. The truck driver shortage could make the situation worse in several ways:
- Inexperienced drivers may be put behind the wheel: In one ATA study, 88 percent of fleets reported that their recent truck driver applicants weren’t qualified for the job. Yet some motor carriers have already been found to hire inexperienced drivers — an act that may become more frequent if the shortage doesn’t improve. Operating a large truck requires specialized knowledge. Without it, truckers are more likely to cause serious accidents.
- Truckers will face more demanding delivery schedules: With fewer drivers available to deliver their goods, trucking companies lean on their existing employees to take more shifts and work fast to maximize profits. They may encourage truckers to violate federal hours-of-service regulations, which require drivers to take mandatory rest periods. The pressure could also lead drivers to speed and/or fail to perform crucial maintenance inspections, all of which could lead to more truck accidents on California roads.
- Trucks may be overloaded: Another way that trucking companies may try to account for the shortage is by filling their trucks with too much cargo. Overloaded trucks are more difficult to maneuver and need greater stopping distances, something that isn’t easy to find on California’s clogged roadways. Overweight trucks are also more prone to dangerous equipment failures, particularly tire blowouts.
- Trucking companies may ignore warning signs: Along with hiring inexperienced drivers, motor carriers may also overlook red flags on an applicant’s driving records, such as past citations for reckless driving, intoxication, and other FMCSA violations.
Motorists who are injured in California truck accidents could be entitled to compensation if someone else’s recklessness caused the collision. But figuring out who is at fault in a truck wreck can be particularly complicated. Many times, more than one party is to blame. For that reason, it’s important for accident victims to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
California Truck Accident Statistics
California’s poor track record for truck accidents is backed up by data. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 1,700 fatal accidents in the state in a recent five-year period involved a large truck.
Other notable California truck accident statistics:
- Despite the driver shortage, trucking is still the most common job in California.
- 361 people died in California truck accidents in a single recent year. Thousands more were injured.
- 6.7 percent of all fatal crashes in California involve large trucks, according to the most recent NHTSA data.
- Interstate 10 and Interstate 5 in California average over 1,000 truck accidents per year.
- Pasadena has an ongoing problem with large trucks colliding with the barriers on the 210 Freeway and onto the Gold Line train tracks.
- State Road 99 is considered the most dangerous highway in the United States, with the highest number of fatal auto accidents per 100 miles in the country.
- Nationally, truck accident statistics are also disturbing.
- Truck accident fatalities recently increased for the fourth consecutive year, according to NHTSA.
- Truck driver deaths are at a 30-year high.
- The number of pedestrians killed by large trucks rose 13 percent in a one-year period.
There’s no way to tell whether the truck driver shortage is partly to blame for the rise in truck wrecks. But no matter the cause, these statistics are scary.
More Truck Accidents Mean More Devastating Injuries
Truck accidents are some of the worst crashes on the road. The vast size difference between a tractor-trailer and a passenger car means that the majority of injuries are suffered by the occupants of the other vehicle, not the truck driver. Many times, the trauma is life-altering.
Types of catastrophic truck accidents injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injury and paralysis
- Multiple broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Crush injuries
All of these injuries can change a person’s life forever. Some may suffer from permanent disabilities. Others may never be able to work again. Aside from the enormous cost of medical bills, the personal devastation cannot be ignored. An accomplished California truck accident lawyer can help victims obtain compensation not only for their financial losses, but also for their emotional ones.
What Is The Expected Truck Driver Outlook For The Future?
While the outlook for the truck driver shortage appears bleak, the publicity has led regulators to consider various options to address the problem.
Proposed solutions include:
- Wage increases: Recruiting drivers may become easier if companies offer benefits for joining the team. For example, some employers are now offering truckers free, online college tuition as an incentive to stay or sign on.
- Increasing driver safety: Only 8 percent of women are truck drivers. Long-haul drivers often sleep in their vehicles, which is a safety concern for everyone, but especially women, minorities, and members of the LGBTQ communities. Improving lighting, fencing, and safety at truck stops is another proposed change to help with the truck driver shortage.
- Lowering the age requirements for interstate travel: Truck drivers must be 21 to obtain a CDL to cross state lines. A bill is being considered in the U.S. Senate to lower the driving age to 18 for drivers who participate in an apprenticeship program alongside an experienced trucker.
- Self-driving trucks: Another suggestion is to invest in self-driving (autonomous) trucks. California is already examining this option. The state Department of Motor Vehicles recently approved testing of light-duty autonomous trucks (weighing 10,001 pounds or less) on public roads. As with all new automotive innovations, safety should always be the priority. The Law Offices of Pius Joseph will continue to monitor all legislation involving autonomous trucks in California.
Why You Need A California Truck Accident Lawyer
All truck accidents are complex. Not only are victims typically contending with more severe injuries, they are also faced with questions about who should be held liable for the accident.
In an average car accident, there may only be two or three drivers involved. Pursuing compensation for injuries means going through those driver(s)’ insurance companies. While that can be challenging, it can be even more so when commercial trucks are involved.
Numerous parties may be to blame for a truck accident. Examples of potentially liable parties include:
- The truck driver
- The truck’s owner
- The trucking company
- Mechanics or third-party maintenance companies
- Cargo loader
- Maker or manufacturer of defective truck parts
- A government or municipality
- Other drivers
Because there are so many possible defendants in a truck accident lawsuit, it’s critical to contact a knowledgeable attorney to ensure that you are pursuing compensation from all possible sources.
The other reason to contact a lawyer is because insurance companies will try to push the blame onto you. In California, you can still obtain compensation even if you are partly at fault for a wreck. This is done by assigning each party a percentage of fault for the accident and reducing the party’s ultimate award by that amount. Having a lawyer to protect you when assigning fault is essential to avoid missing out on the compensation you deserve.
A truck accident attorney is also a valuable asset because these types of crashes require thorough investigations. Trucking companies are protected by powerful insurance companies who can send adjusters to the scene of the crash within hours. Having a lawyer who can conduct an independent investigation of the accident can make sure that all relevant evidence is collected and preserved.
Finally, a trustworthy truck accident attorney can handle all negotiations with the insurance company(s). Truck companies are often covered by more than one policy, and a good lawyer will be able to communicate with them and fight for a fair settlement. It’s common practice to give accident victims a low first offer. A competent attorney can make sure that you aren’t shortchanged.
Most truck accident claims resolve with settlements. But there are times when a defendant refuses to give accident victims proper compensation. In those cases, you’ll want a strong and skilled attorney to explain your options about whether to take the case to trial.
We’ll Demand Maximum Compensation For Your Pasadena Truck Accident
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in Pasadena or a surrounding California community, the Law Offices of Pius Joseph can help.
For more than 30 years, Attorney Pius Joseph has helped injured people put their lives back on track after serious accidents. While compensation cannot always restore accident victims to the life they had before their accidents, it can provide the financial security that families need to move forward. In California, compensation can account not only for past and current medical expenses and lost income, but also include money for anticipated future losses.
When you work with the Law Offices of Pius Joseph, you’ll get a team of professionals who know what it takes to build a successful truck accident claim. We put all of our energy into getting clients the best possible outcomes for their cases.
Arrange a free case review today. We’ll listen to your story and determine who should be held liable for your case. Then we’ll discuss your legal options.
Don’t worry about your legal fees. There are no upfront costs for us to work on your case. At the Law Offices of Pius Joseph, we only get paid if we obtain a settlement or verdict on your behalf.
Ready to get started? Call or contact us to arrange your free consultation now.