Unlike other modes of freight transport such as shipping, air, and rail transport, freight transport by truck exacts a heavy death toll on our population. The reason is that trucking shares the roads with the driving public. In 2011, 17% of truck accident fatalities occurred to the occupants of the trucks, while 72% occurred to the occupants of the other vehicles involved in the accidents.
In spite of regulations that limit the number of consecutive hours that truckers can drive, and more money spent on trucking inspection, accident rates are still high. These accidents are often caused by exhausted drivers, poor truck maintenance, and speeding. Perhaps the reason trucking accidents persist is that truck driver pay incentivizes them to drive dangerously. Since the 1930s, truck drivers get paid by the number of miles driven rather than by hours worked. This is a strong incentive for truckers with families to support, to drive in ways that endanger the public. This includes:
Driving faster increases the miles driven per hour, which increases pay per hour. When the truck driver isn’t covering ground, he isn’t earning pay. This includes the time spent at shipping docks delivering and picking up freight. When shippers are slow and inefficient, it’s the truckers who pay for this because their trucks are parked at the dock instead of moving. When traffic slows to a crawl, again, it’s the trucker who gets penalized. This incentivizes truck drivers to make up for this by driving at unsafe speeds.
Driving Longer Hours
The same factors that push truckers to drive faster, also pushes them to drive longer hours. This is in spite of hours of service regulations limiting their driving hours. This is sometimes done by falsifying their driving log book entries or by making two sets of books. Driving longer hours causes fatigue, which endangers truck drivers and the driving public around them.
The need to cover distance incentivizes truckers to neglect or skimp on pre-trip safety checks of their vehicles in favor of getting on the road sooner. Likewise, truckers may delay much-needed maintenance and repair work as long as possible, which means their trucks become increasingly unsafe.
If you or someone close to you have experienced physical and financial setbacks because of a truck accident, contact us to discuss your case.