Summer 2022

Transportation Safety Amid the Supply-Chain Issues of 2022

The 2021 Driver Shortage Report issued by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) found that the nationwide truck driver shortage hit a “historic high” with a loss of approximately 80,000truck drivers. If the current industry trend persists, a loss of 160,000 drivers is projected by 2030The ATA estimates that 1,000,000 new drivers will need to be recruited over the next ten years to replace truck drivers leaving the workforce and encourage industry growth. The national shortage of truck drivers is one of the many problems contributing to the significant supply-chain disruptions that have plagued 2022.It’s a dilemma that has caught the attention of everyone, including those governmental and political associations that have been tasked with finding the solution.

For example, to combat the truck driver shortage throughout the nation, Virginia Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger co-sponsored H.R. 7348; Strengthening Supply Chains Through Truck Driver Incentives Act of 2022. In short, the bill aims to fill truck driver vacancies and keep existing drivers on the road through refundable tax credits. If passed, the bill would give newly introduced truck drivers or those registered in trucking apprenticeship, a refundable tax credit of up to $10,000 and for up to two years. Those truck drivers that currently hold a valid Class A CDL and drive at least 1,900 hours in the year will receive up to a $7,500 refundable tax credit for up to two years. The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on March 31, 2022, and was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means at that time.

In Virginia, a partnership between the Virginia Ready Initiative and the Virginia Trucking Association offered $1,000 to any Virginian who completed a truck driver training program at a Virginia community college and passed a CDL test. Similar incentive programs are being launched throughout the country to help relieve the widespread supply-chain disruptions and combat local unemployment rates.

The push for new, inexperienced, commercial drivers on the road will certainly affect trucking liability and transportation safety. Consider the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot program launched by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that allows employers to establish apprenticeship programs for certain drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 to drive big rigs across state lines. Despite numerous strict safety measures, there is an overarching concern that young and inexperienced drivers have higher crash rates.

According to the results of the study conducted by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, however, while both age and commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driving experience play a role in driver risk, CMV driving experience is more important than age when considering risk. The study found that older inexperienced CMV drivers had higher crash rates and odds of being involved in a crash than their younger, inexperienced counterparts. Based on the results of this study, employers are being urged to enhance their apprenticeship and training programs.

Written by associate Alexandra Monaco.