Florida relies heavily on the trucking industry for its agricultural industry and its many other industries. Truck drivers bring goods and products into the state and transport Florida products all over the United States and beyond. Unfortunately, the industry has been affected by a labor shortage and labor problems that could affect not only profits but also the rate of truck accidents in Hollywood and across the state.
There are a number of issues affecting the current labor shortage in the trucking industry:
1) The labor shortage is caused in part by an aging population. According to a study written by Richard Beilock of the University of Florida, the median age of Americans will be 39.1 years, up from 34 years old in 1994. The older population will mean a shrinking work force (as more people recover) but will also be bad news for an industry such as trucking, where physical demands require a younger workforce.
2) The overall work force is shrinking. In addition, Beilock notes that many are moving to white-collar and high-tech occupations that offer higher pay for less dangerous work. This can make it harder for the industry to attract the most qualified workers from a shrinking pool.
3) The turnover rate for drivers is high. According to The American Trucking Association, at large motor carriers the turnover rate for truck drivers was 104% in 2012’s third quarter. Some positions were turned over more than once during the time period, which is why the figure was higher than 100%. A high turnover rate in any profession, of course, creates problems as employers look for ways to replace lost workers. In trucking, the problem can be even more demanding because drivers must undergo screening and training as well.
4) New rules will place more demands on motor carriers to hire more drivers. Last year, hours of service rules changed so that truck drivers are allowed to drive a maximum of 70 hours per workweek, compared to the 82 hours per week allowed before. This means that most motor carriers will need to hire more drivers to make the same number of shipments as before.
Some claim that these issues do contribute to traffic accidents in Hollywood and other cities. They note that a shrinking work force and more pressure on motor carriers to hire more workers can mean that there are less demands placed on drivers and that less safe drivers may be placed on the roads just to fill demand. Others note that current drivers may be pressured to drive longer hours, which can also contribute to a higher risk of truck and car accidents in Hollywood and across the country.
Other experts point out that the current state of the industry could be good news for safety in the long run. Since motor carriers are eager to hire drivers and since truck driving cannot be outsourced, they are pushed to offer better compensation and working conditions to workers. Already, long-haul truck drivers can make 50 cents per mile or even more. Better work conditions can mean safer conditions while better pay can mean that the industry becomes more attractive to highly qualified and safe drivers. In addition, motor carriers must still abide by federal laws. Even with the labor shortage, they are responsible for putting only safe drivers on the roads.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, please know that there are options available to you. To review your options, contact Flaxman Law Group. Your initial consultation is free and comes with no obligation.