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Truck driver shortage could increase pressure on current drivers

"You're going to get fired, and it's going to be hard to find another job," says American Trucking Association economist Bob Costello, as reported by Walker Moskop for San Antonio Express-News. Costello is referring to tighter regulations imposed on truck drivers in terms of the driver rating system, which could "weed out" truck drivers with safety problems.

In other words, truck drivers who have caused tractor trailer accidents due to driving while fatigued, for example, would find themselves out of a job and unable to find a new one. In turn, this contributes to the truck driver shortage.

It's a Catch-22.

You regulate truck drivers to increase safety on roadways. You ensure that electronic monitoring is happening, replacing drivers' "comic books," which are often inaccurate, to say the least, in term of hours-of-service. You rate drivers based on their safe driving records. All this contributes to fewer big rig crashes.

At the same time, this weeds out poor drivers and contributes to the labor shortage, which puts increased pressure on current truck drivers and their employers.

As Moskop reports, trucking company manager Tom Hartman said, "You might have a run, let's say, from San Antonio to El Paso that could legally be done well within the [current] hours of service requirements. If the new rules were to go into place, you would have to split that run. Now you're talking about two trucks. Two drivers."

And the last thing any employer wants to do, in an economy that is still struggling to find its legs, is hire more truckers. Truckers cost money. How many companies will instead opt to put more pressure on their existing truckers, poor safety records or not?

Source: San Antonio Express-News, "Truck drivers needed," by Walker Moskop, 07/15/11

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