The Myth of Driver Shortage in the Trucking Industry

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September 14, 2016
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The trucking industry has long perpetrated the myth that it faces a shortage of drivers and the industry has fought back against hours of service (HOS) rules by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that are designed to limit the number of hours each week a driver can spend on the road. While the industry claims these rules reduce the already low numbers of drivers, how true is this claim?

Delaware Trucking LawyerThe truth is there are thousands of drivers with CDL licenses throughout the country who do not work as truck drivers, not because they can’t get enough hours but because they are forced to work 70+ hours a week and leave their families for extended periods of time for relatively low wages.

The trucking industry has one of the highest turnover rates in the country, but most trucking companies fake their numbers to justify this claim of a shortage instead of looking at the real problem. The lack of oversight in the trucking industry poses a real danger to not only truck drivers who work long hours and struggle with fatigue on the road but also other drivers.

Trucking Turnover Rates

Turnover is defined as the number of people who quit within one year whereas churn refers to the number of people who must be hired to fill vacancies for any other reason, including people who retire, get promoted, or leave on disability. A company’s total turnover rate is the turnover plus churn. A normal turnover rate for the vast majority of companies is 15%.

The trucking industry defines these terms very differently. For most trucking companies, turnover refers to the people who quit as well, but the numbers are usually ignored in favor of “churn,” or what they define as the number of people who quit to work with another trucking company. This means the number of people who retire, get fired, or leave the industry completely are not factored in.

In 2016, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) reported that the annual turnover rate for large truckload carriers rose 13% to 100%, hitting the highest level in 3 years.

Low Pay and Few Protections for Drivers

Truckers face an outdated pay structure that is usually based on the number of miles driven, giving drivers a strongDelaware Trucking Lawyer financial incentive to stay on the road and keep driving, even if they are too tired to do so safely. There are many truck drivers on the road who earn less than $40,000 for a full 50 weeks of working 100 hours. Drivers typically earn just cents for every mile they travel, and they do not earn if they aren’t moving. Drivers aren’t compensated for anything that pushes their time clock pass 100 hours a week because their meter only records in miles. They also do not receive overtime protection and they can be subjected to days-long delays for loading and unloading without compensation.

This atmosphere isn’t just difficult for drivers, it gives a strong incentive to illegal or unsafe driving, including falsifying driving records to show a driver took breaks he did not take or staying on the road despite fatigue that dramatically reduces response time. These problems are directly related to the high turnover rate in the industry while posing a safety hazard to truck drivers and other drivers on the roads of Delaware.

Contact a Trucking Accident Attorney in Delaware

If you have been involved in a commercial truck accident in Delaware, it’s important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances in your case, the truck driver and/or the trucking company may be liable for your injuries. Contact the Law Offices of Edelstein Martin & Nelson – Wilmington today for a free consultation with a Delaware trucking accident attorney to seek maximum compensation for your injuries.