There is a "rolling crisis" in the United States that could cause the price of shipping inland goods to rise significantly. Fortune warned of this crisis in an article in May. At issue is a shortage of between 35,000 and 40,000 qualified truck drivers necessary to deliver goods throughout the country. When there are too few truckers, the risk of truck accidents increases as drivers receive pressure to work longer hours and trucking companies may turn to drivers who are not as qualified as they should be.
The truck driver shortage, however, is no excuse for drivers or trucking companies to cut corners and cause truck accidents. It is the responsibility of a trucker and his employer to ensure that drivers know how to operate a tractor trailer in a safe manner so they do not present a risk to themselves or others on the road. Failure to fulfill this responsibility can result in legal liability.
Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies Must Focus on Qualifications Even During Shortage
The trucker shortage has driven up demand for qualified commercial driver's license (CDL) holders. This, in turn, has driven up wages. Unfortunately, the high demand prompted a scheme designed to allow unqualified people to qualify for a CDL. Commercial Carrier Journal reported one scheme in New York affecting five different Department of Motor Vehicle Testing centers. Officials at the testing centers were paid anywhere from $1,800 to $2,500 to facilitate applications for CDL candidates cheating on their exams.
Applicants paid for an escort through the licensing process. For their money, they were provided with an external test-taker. They were also provided with answers to test questions. Bluetooth headsets were used to communicate and provide answers, along with a pencil encoded with a mini-answer key to CDL test questions.
These applicants were not qualified to operate trucks because they did not pass required testing or learn safety rules. Yet they obtained licenses anyway and likely were hired to work for common carriers. If the drivers found themselves out on their route and unsure of how to operate their vehicle safely, this could have put other motorists at serious risk of a dangerous accident. These drivers did not just stay in New York either. Many likely became long-haul truckers who deliver goods across the United States. Motorists throughout West Virginia could have encountered one of these truckers on the road and been in serious danger.
Five officials involved in this scheme were arrested and now face up to 20 years in prison. Even so, the high demand for CDL drivers could lead others to try similar fraudulent CDL schemes.
The shortage of qualified truckers could result in trucking companies being more apt to hire workers who do not have the necessary experience to safely operate a truck. While having a commercial license is a requirement to operate a truck, it should not be the only qualification companies insist upon. Trucking companies have an obligation to hire well-trained drivers who can actually operate a large, commercial vehicle safely on the road.