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Truck driver shortage may cause increase in accidents

Truck drivers fill a vital role, transporting essential goods across Montana and throughout the country. Well trained and qualified truck drivers are crucial to ensure these products are delivered safely. The American Truck Associations report a shortage of 50,000 truck drivers in the U.S., and that there are not enough truck drivers on the road to keep up with the growing demand. This year alone, the amount of freight needing to be delivered grew by 4.2 percent, and by 2029, freight tonnage is expected to increase by 35.6 percent.

Why the shortage of truck drivers? As the generation of baby boomers retired, younger generations show less interest in the business. Many opt for careers that pay better and allow them to stay home with their families. Some trucking companies attempt to entice new drivers by offering enhanced benefits, free training and increased starting pay; However, the turnover is still high. The government is attempting to solve the problem by loosening tight regulations requiring truck drivers to go through certain tests, including sleep apnea. They are also looking at removing safety technology restrictions, such as speed-limiting devices on large trucks.

Without an adequate number of truckers on the road, truck drivers may be pressured to stay behind the wheel for extended periods of time in order to meet tight deadlines. Some trucking companies try to compensate for the backup of freight needing to be delivered by hiring unqualified truckers or truck drivers who have former driving violations. All of these factors can lead to an increase in trucking accidents and put other drivers and people on the road at risk of becoming involved in a catastrophic collision.  

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