You may have heard that Texas, along with the rest of the country, is experiencing a serious truck driver shortage. Trucking companies cannot find enough drivers able to meet the Department of Transportation’s stringent requirements, and nearly all the drivers they do find leave the profession soon after entering it. The American Trucking Associations estimates the average number of new truck drivers needed per year for the next 10 years is nearly 100,000. Others say the trucker shortage could reach 600,000 by 2016.
To keep trucks moving, many national carriers now hire inexperienced truck drivers. Although those drivers train to earn a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) before operating a big rig commercially, experience builds over years, not weeks or months. Inexperience can and does lead to accidents.
Even more concerning is that some smaller independent companies employ drivers without a CDL. A recent one-month CBS 7 investigation into truck drivers without CDLs uncovered 350 crashes in the Permian Basin alone involving such drivers. In those crashes 14 people died. According to the Nov. 22 report, the Texas Department of Public Safety had already issued at least 300 tickets during the year to truck drivers without a CDL and said that number could double by the end of 2012.
Latest data from the Texas Department of Transportation, processed as of June 2012, shows that in 2011 a total 23,968 crashes in Texas involved Commercial Motor Vehicles in which 417 people died and 4,734 suffered serious injuries. The highest number of truck accidents occurred in Harris County. Those 3,355 crashes involved at least 25 fatalities and 481 serious injuries.
Unfortunately, fatalities and serious injuries are not uncommon in auto-truck accidents. While some crashes may be unavoidable, truck accidents caused by driver error, lack of truck maintenance, fatigue or other negligence are intolerable.
Serving as an 18 wheeler accident lawyer in Houston, The Callahan Law Firm is a committed advocate for victims seriously injured and families who lost loved ones in commercial truck accidents. The firm handles cases throughout the state, working on a contingency basis, to help victims get justice through the legal system.
While paying fines for driving a commercial truck without a CDL may not stop offenders, paying large damages awards as a result of jury verdicts in trucking negligence cases could. Texas needs qualified truck drivers to safely operate commercial vehicles on Texas roads, and we cannot allow negligent, inexperienced truck drivers to put lives at risk.