Pilots who guide airliners filled with passengers through the earth’s atmosphere know the importance of strict regulations to protect themselves and the lives entrusted to their care. Second only to air transportation, trucking is the most regulated industry in the United States. Truckers carry the undeserved reputation of being dangerous drivers. News media draw viewers to their coverage by dramatizing events, including accidents on roads and highways.
An accident involving a pickup truck and auto is inflated into a truck accident, with a file photo of a semi truck being conveniently flashed on the screen. Chain reaction pile-ups usually involve more autos, pickups and SUVs than large trucks, but coverage of truck involvement make the accidents seem even more spectacular. The truth is, according to statistics, only 2.4 percent of all car accidents involve commercial vehicles.
The number of trucks on US highways continues to increase every year, but the total of fatalities due to nationwide trucking accidents, about 5000 deaths per year, has remained the same for a number of years. Individual states report that commercial trucks are responsible for 10% to 15% of traffic related deaths as opposed to 85% to 90% of deaths attributed to other vehicles.
It is a popular consensus that truck drivers regularly use alcohol and illegal drugs, whether for personal entertainment or to enable them to stay awake while driving long tedious miles. 94% of truckers are hardworking, family oriented people trying to make a living, and by choice and because of strict Federal enforcement, stay sober and drug free to protect their jobs.
Truckers are subject to being drug tested at any time, even on the side of the road when an officer decides to stop the truck for a routine inspection, and by random urine tests required at any time or location by the Safety Department of their company.
Women are being recruited nationwide by trucking companies because they are proving themselves to be safe drivers. They are known to pass their first commercial driver’s test four to one over men, and to violate traffic safety rules five times less than their male counterparts.
Women also are involved in three times less accidents than male drivers. 200,000 female drivers make the nation’s highways safer. The first few months of a truck driver’s career is a proving ground during which the rookie is paid a nominal amount. After that a driver, male or female, may earn up to one third more than the national Median salary.