For the next few years, the American trucking industry is not going to have enough experienced truck drivers to drive those big semis and tractor trailer trucks across the country. For details, check out our previous post.
This translates into more danger for those of us sharing the roads with commercial trucks here in Indiana and Illinois.
More than most drivers in the United States, we know first-hand the risks involved in sharing the road with a big rig, tractor trailer, or semi truck. After all, we’ve got a huge number of these big behemoths moving through our area, maybe more than the remainder of the country.
For details, read our discussion in “Semi Trucks and Big Rigs: High Indiana and Illinois Commercial Truck Traffic Creates Dangerous Conditions,” including the referenced map of truck routes that spider-web across Indiana and Illinois.)
Our part of the country is considered the “freight hub of America” because of the huge number of semi trucks moving through here.
Dangers of Sharing the Road with a Big Rig or Semi
Driving alongside a commercial truck is dangerous for anyone – including another commercial truck. However, for those who are operating smaller vehicles, the danger increases.
The commercial trucks are heavy, especially if they are filled with cargo. That’s a big weight differential with most other vehicles on the road.
These big trucks are large, too. They aren’t easy to get around, and they’re not easy to pass or evade should the big truck decide to move into your lane of traffic.
In the best of conditions, having a big rig or semi on the road with a sedan, SUV, minivan, or pickup is increasing the risk for serious injury or death in an accident.
However, having the current truck driver shortage only compounds that danger for all of us. Factors for the increased risk of serious injury or wrongful death in a truck crash in Indiana or Illinois skyrocket when you consider things like:
Pressures on Experienced Truck Drivers
Truck Drivers who have experience behind the wheel are going to be pressured to do more on the job. Work more hours, take more routes. They’re going to be needed by the trucking company to do as much (or more) than they can do to help meet those cargo delivery deadlines.
This means experienced truckers are going to be tempted to drive when they are tired. They’ll have incentive to drive when the weather conditions are risky. They may decide to drive past HOS Regulations because of pressure from their boss.
Which means an experienced truck driver may be facing an even higher danger of being in a serious truck crash because of the industry pressures placed upon him.
Risks for Newbie Truckers
For someone new to driving one of these huge and heavy machines, the risk is obvious. Someone who is not very experienced at dealing with a big rig or semi on the road is going to be more of a danger to himself and others than a more experienced trucker.
The newbie commercial truck driver is going to deal with road hazards, weather conditions, heavy traffic, shifting cargo, mechanical glitches, deadline pressures, fatigue, anxiety, and more. And they’re going to be driving on the Borman Expressway and other routes moving through Indiana and Illinois.
Lowering Standards for Truck Drivers
Right now, to be a commercial truck driver in this country, you must be at least 21 years old and have a state commercial truck driver’s license. Because of the truck driver shortage, there is talk that federal law will lower that age requirement to 18 years of age.
That’s putting teen drivers behind the wheel of big rigs. For more on teen driver risks, read our prior post.
Additionally, trucking companies may forego their past minimum standards for truck drivers. While the federal government does have minimum requirements for anyone before they can get a commercial driver’s license, industry standards of the past have set a higher benchmark. That may well change because of the trucker shortage. Doing so will only increase the risk of truck crashes.
Help for Those Hurt in a Commercial Truck Accident
Here’s the bottom line: it’s going to be dangerous to drive alongside commercial trucks in Indiana and Illinois for the next few years. We all need to be aware of the dangers and try to minimize the risk as best we can.
- Choose an alternative route if we can.
- Give the big rig lots of room on the road if we are driving alongside the commercial truck.
- Recognize these big trucks cannot stop fast and can’t see well.
- How good are their brakes?
- How rested is that trucker?
And if you or a loved one suffers injuries in a truck crash, then know your rights and how to get justice. There are accident laws passed in Indiana and Illinois to help you deal with the aftermath. Medical expenses, lost wages, and much more can be awarded under these negligence claims. Let’s be careful out there!