El Paso Trucking Industry Struggles to Fill Driver Shortage
In Texas and across the nation, the trucking industry faces an ongoing problem of employee turnover. The lifestyle and conditions of truck driving makes it difficult to retain employees for extended periods of time. In addition, truck driving is a dangerous job. ABC News reports on data from the United States Department of Labor, which found that 2016 saw more deaths among truck drivers than any other profession.
This is an ongoing trend: the Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that truck driving was the most dangerous occupation back in 1994 and 1995. The difficult lifestyle and dangerous working conditions have now led trucking industry insiders to begin recruiting labor from a frightening demographic: teenagers.
Why Teen Truck Drivers?
Current federal regulations prohibit commercial driver’s license holders from crossing state lines if they are under the age of 21. Most states allow drivers to obtain a commercial driver’s license at the age of 18, but these CDL holders can only make commercial truck runs within state boundaries. As a practical matter, this means that most transportation companies can only hire CDL holders over the age of 21. As truck drivers continue to drop out of the industry due to poor working conditions and injury, the untapped market of CDL holders between the ages of 18 and 21 has become the target of industry insiders.
The Washington Examiner reports that two House Republicans have introduced legislation to allow CDL holders to cross state lines before the age of 21. If the driver is at least 18, holds a commercial driver’s license, and completes a 400-hour training course, the new law would allow him or her to cross state lines with commercial loads. The legislation is supported by trade groups such as the American Trucking Association, which estimates a shortfall of nearly 200,000 commercial truck drivers by the year 2026. Like the bill’s sponsors, trade groups view this legislation as a reasonable method of filling job openings and providing young truck drivers with more career opportunities.
Yet not all those employed in the trucking industry feel this law is the right way to address these problems. As one veteran truck driver noted for American Trucker, all young drivers are statistically more likely to be involved in an accident. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for Americans aged 16 to 20. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that young adults aged 15 to 24 make up only 14 percent of the American population, but are responsible for 29 percent of the costs of motor vehicle injuries in the United States.
When accidents do occur, an El Paso truck accident attorney can help injury victims hold transportation companies accountable for the negligent acts of truck drivers.