Thanks to an increase in the number of companies that are offering free and two-day shipping, the trucking industry has continued to grow and is still one of the most common transportation methods used in shipping. Sadly, the growing demand and shortage of drivers means that the hardworking men and women in this industry are expected to work longer hours than ever before in an already dangerous job.
What Makes Trucking So Dangerous?
In order to find ways to help truck drivers we first need to understand why the job is so dangerous. The leading causes of injury and illness are due to:
Long Work Hours
When talking to a trucker, most people are shocked to find out that the driver is often expected to drive fourteen hours or more in a single day. That’s six hours longer than the average work day. To make matters worse, truckers usually only get one day off during the week. How any employer can think this is a sustainable lifestyle is beyond comprehension, but most people understand that long hours lead to very tired workers and it’s hardly surprising that the number of drivers falling asleep behind the wheel is steadily increasing.
Poor Living Conditions
Truckers typically sleep in their rig, but they still need to find a place to park. In many states, the government has shut down previously designated truck stops in order to save money, leaving truckers with few options. Parking on the side of the highway or a random empty parking lot are commonly the only choices available. So the quality of sleep is often poor and the very location can raise the likelyhood that the truck will be hit by another driver.
In addition to this, many drivers don’t have the time to eat a proper meal let alone exercise. Sitting for hours and poor nutrition mean that obesity rates are high, as is heart disease. Combine this with a hectic schedule that doesn’t allow a driver to make routine doctors appointments and you have a group of unhealthy workers that are prone to serious illnesses.
High Rates Of Depression
When a trucker is on the road for days, weeks, and sometimes months at a time, they are kept from seeing their friends and family and often miss important events. The loneliness of the road and the knowledge that life is going on regardless, in addition to the stress of the job often causes depression and anxiety.
Constantly Changing Weather
It’s no secret that driving in poor weather conditions is dangerous. Rain, sleet, snow, hail, and ice storms all create slippery conditions with poor visibility. Despite this, truckers are expected to keep driving in order to meet their deadlines.
Texting, drunk driving, and distracted driving are all common causes of car accidents and even though trucks are huge compared to passenger vehicles, it doesn’t stop the truck from sustaining serious damage or the driver from being seriously injured. In fact, if a truck is hit, the weight of the cargo and the poor center of gravity often causes the entire structure to roll onto its side.
Falls From The Truck
A factor that many people who haven’t worked as a trucker don’t consider is the actual size of the truck. In order to get in and out of the cab or into the back to make deliveries, a trucker must climb up and down. One small slip or lose foothold can send them tumbling to the hard pavement below.
Poor Truck Maintenance
Most truckers don’t own the rig that they are driving. This means that they are placing their faith and lives in another person’s hands – someone who is legally required to make sure that the truck is in good driving condition. Bald tires, faulty brakes, or poor connections between the cab and the trailer are all maintenance issues that can result in an accident.
Traveling alone, carrying loads that could potentially be worth quite a bit of money, and having to sleep in the truck make truckers the target of criminals who are looking to make a quick buck. It’s not uncommon to hear about how a trucker was beaten and part of a shipping load taken while at a truck stop or on the side of the road.
Given that the average trucker makes between $40,000 – $50,000, even with their long hours, most can’t afford to be seriously injured and out of work. So when an accident does happen, the driver is forced to depend on workers’ compensation insurance which can be, well, undependable.
Workers’ Compensation Is Complicated
Employers who hire truckers are required in the State of New York to carry a workers’ compensation insurance policy. This policy is designed to cover a worker whose injury or illness was caused during the course of their job.
Even if the trucker caused the accident that they were involved in, the insurance policy should provide coverage because workers’ comp is considered a “no-fault” insurance. Despite this, a large portion of the claims made are denied by insurance companies that are more interested in making money than helping people.
Trucking workers’ comp claims are especially complicated due to the fact that many drivers cross state lines. Hiring a workers’ compensation attorney is sometimes the only way to obtain the much-needed coverage.
Personal Injury Lawsuits May Also Be An Option
If another driver was responsible for the accident which caused the trucker’s injuries, they may also be able to obtain compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. While workers’ comp can cover medical expenses and a small fraction of lost wages, a lawsuit can recover even more. Full compensation for lost wages, physical pain and suffering, and emotional trauma are all losses that might be awarded to the driver.