The trucking industry is a VERY BIG business in the United States.
What does this have to do with the risks tractor trailers present to us?
Simple: The pursuit of profit is what motivates big businesses, including the trucking industry. Safe practices cost money and manpower to implement. While cutting safety programs and manpower may increase profits, when big trucking companies cut back on safety, we all lose.
How BIG a business is the trucking industry? HUGE. Consider the following:
Revenue estimates from 2003 indicate that the trucking industry as a whole generated over $255.5 Billion. In ONE year! Such numbers are impressive enough on their own, but if you consider that a major part of these revenues are generated by a only handful of companies, you can see that it does not take many bad decisions to put us all in danger.
In that same year, the following companies were identified as the top 10 revenue generators for the trucking industry. These single year statistics are nothing short of staggering:
- United Parcel Service (“UPS”) – Revenue estimate: $21.34 billion
- Fed Ex Ground – Revenue estimate: $3.9 billion
- Schneider National – Revenue estimate: $2.9 billion
- Roadway Express, Inc. – Revenue estimate: $2.84 billion
- Yellow Transportation, Inc. – Revenue estimate: $2.79 billion
- Fed Ex Freight – Revenue estimate: $2.7 billion
- J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. – Revenue estimate: $2.43 billion
- Swift Transportation Co. – Revenue estimate: $2.4 billion
- Con-Way Transportation Services – Revenue estimate: $2.11 billion
- Over-nite Transportation – Revenue estimate: $1.48 billion
So how can cost-cutting by the trucking industry put motorists at risk?
There are several ways, but one of the more obvious involves Personnel. Personnel is one of the greatest operational expenses of any business and in an effort to maximize profits, it is always tempting to cut staff by trying to get the same amount of work from a smaller work force. Now, if a retailer cuts personnel (i.e. jobs), you may only notice that it is harder to find what you are looking for when you go to the store. But what happens when a trucking company cuts back while trying to move the same amount of goods?
- Drivers are stretched thin and feel pressure to log more hours. This translates to greater driver fatigue, and an increased risk of accidents.
- Fewer personnel frequently means cuts in the frequency of inspections and servicing of equipment. This translates to a greatly increased risk of accidents.
- Decreased staff reduces a company’s ability to perform background checks, train workers or implement other vital safety programs, and increases the risk that incompetent or poorly trained personnel will be placed behind the wheel or in the company’s service departments.