Recently, CNNMoney reported that there are currently as many as 200,000 job openings nationwide for long haul truckers.  It is anticipated that the number of open positions will increase with time, as the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicated that the trucking industry will add 310,000 jobs between 2010 and 2020 – an increase of 20% over the 1,500,000 truck drivers that are currently on the road.

CNNMoney reported that several of the nation’s largest long haul trucking companies, including Schneider National, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Swift Transportation, and Werner Enterprises are aggressively recruiting drivers on their websites and companies such as Werner are offering drivers large signing bonuses.

While industry growth and employment opportunities are undeniably positive, trucking companies must make safety their number one priority when addressing the growing demands on current drivers and hiring new drivers.  This means that now, more than ever, trucking companies must ensure that their drivers are not exceeding the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Hours of Service Rules in order to meet the increasing demands created by industry growth and underemployment.  Furthermore, trucking companies must resist the temptation to relax their hiring standards in order to fill vacate positions, which would result in an increased number of unsafe or untrained drivers on our shared roadways.

If the trucking industry grows and hires with safety as its top priority, everyone wins.  If safety is overlooked in favor of the “profit over people” mentality and the numbers of fatigued, unsafe, and untrained drivers increase, truck drivers and those that are injured or killed as a result of truck crashes will lose dearly.  Let’s hope that safety prevails.