Fatal truck accident exposes potential danger of driver shortage

The driver of a tractor-trailer recently pled not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges arising from a truck accident that killed two motorists in southwest Missouri. The driver, a Chinese national age 31 who resides in California, entered the pleas through an interpreter on May 21, 2013.

The truck driver is accused of speeding on U.S. Route 60 near Republic and failing to stop for a line of traffic on March 27. His tractor-trailer crashed into a car and a pickup truck, pushing them forward into the rear of and under another rig and killing both their drivers.

According to federal authorities, the immigration status of the truck driver involved in the accident is on appeal.

Truck Driver Shortage Leads to Hiring of Drivers from Overseas

More foreign nationals will likely be driving rigs on Missouri roads in the near future. As USA Today has reported, the United States is currently experiencing a shortage of long-haul truck drivers for a variety of reasons:

• Many Baby Boomers are retiring

• Fewer young people are interested in a career requiring drivers to be away from home weeks at a time

• Truck drivers must be at least 21 years of age, causing many 18-year-olds who might otherwise consider trucking to pursue other trades

• Unemployed workers laid off from construction and factory jobs often cannot afford the $4,000 to $6,000 cost of the six-week driving course

• After the federal government recently started publishing the safety ratings of trucking companies, some carriers began hiring only drivers with clean records, narrowing the pool of applicants

This shortage will become more acute after July 1, 2013, when new federal regulations go into effect limiting drivers to working 70 hours each week. These safety regulations will require carriers to hire more drivers to haul the same amount of freight.

The crunch is not going away anytime soon. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for drivers of heavy and tractor-trailer trucks will grow 21 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.

Overseas Truck Drivers Present Special Problems

The truck driver shortage has led drivers.com to create a special guide for overseas truckers seeking employment in the United States.

But foreign truckers can present special problems and concerns. They may not read or understand English well enough to heed road signs or other safety warnings. They may be unfamiliar with Missouri roads and laws. They may have problems with their immigration status or Missouri licensing requirements.

All of these additional factors must be considered and investigated when dealing with the aftermath of a truck accident involving an overseas trucker that results in death or serious injury.

What If I Am Involved in a Truck Accident With a Foreign Driver?

Given that heavy trucks and tractor-trailers weigh many tons, are very difficult to stop in an emergency, and have major blind spots, they present an ever present danger of accidents involving multiple vehicles, loss of life, and/or serious injury. If you or a loved one are involved in an accident with a truck operated by an overseas or domestic driver resulting in death or injury, you should contact an experienced Missouri truck accident attorney who can obtain full and fair compensation for your injuries or loss.