Anyone who drives has likely experienced some amount of awe and anxiety while pulling up along a large commercial truck. At any given time, there are literally tens if not hundreds of thousands of commercial trucks traveling along our nation’s highways and interstates and while the majority make it safely to their destinations, some are involved in accidents.
Traffic accidents involving large commercial trucks and passenger vehicles often result in serious or fatal injuries. Recognizing the inherent dangers these hulking vehicles pose to the occupants of smaller vehicles, the federal government has imposed numerous restrictions and regulations on the trucking industry. Despite these regulations, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute, during 2014, a total of 3,660 people were killed in accidents involving large commercial trucks.
In an attempt to reduce this number, federal officials often move to imposing even more restrictions and requirements upon trucking employers and individual drivers. This approach, however, may in fact be doing more harm than good as truck drivers are leaving the profession in droves.
A recent opinion editorial in The New York Times discusses the oppressive conditions under which today’s long-haul truck drivers are required to perform their jobs. While, in past decades, truck drivers enjoyed a considerable amount of freedom with regard to when they worked and the routes they took, today’s drivers are routinely told when they can and cannot drive, which routes to take, when to stop for gas and when they must sleep. What’s more, drivers must undergo regular drug and alcohol tests as well as physicals. Additionally, increasingly the driving behaviors of drivers are being continually monitored and controlled via dash cameras and speed limiters.
All of this intense scrutiny and oversight equates to drivers who feel overly stressed and aren’t getting adequate or restful sleep. The result, long-haul truck drivers are leaving the profession in droves and, thanks to the U.S. Senate, are being replaced by younger and inexperienced drivers who are statistically much more likely to be involved in traffic accidents.