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Los Angeles Law Blog

By John Kristensen of Kristensen, LLP posted in Labor Laws on Friday, August 17, 2018.
Labor Laws and the Culture of Trucking Employees

Driving is a dangerous activity – we navigate down windy roads with unpredictable conditions while surrounded by strangers who are all operating 5,000 pounds of high-speed metal. It’s always our responsibility to do our part to maintain safety conditions for everyone, but when you introduce semi-trucks into the mix, that’s another 80,000 pounds of liability that simply isn’t under your control.

Being that we all share the road, we want to believe we all have an interest in improving driving conditions and keeping one another safe. However as with many things, once economics enter the equation – common sense quickly exits. The trucking industry is a dangerous one. Labor laws fail to sufficiently curb the culture of the driving industry, and drivers are incentivized to push themselves beyond a reasonable limit in terms of exhaustion and awareness. When it comes to operating these dangerous vehicles in such close proximity to ourselves, our children, and our loved ones, there are a number of issues that require more attention and stricter enforcement in order to keep all drivers safe:

Long hours
As professionals, nearly any one of us would expect to see a decrease in our work performance with extended overtime hours. Unlike truckers, however, our jobs don’t have the potential to kill dozens of people with no more than a split second lapse in judgement. It’s critical when operating such a dangerous piece of equipment around so many bystanders that the safety of the operator is prioritized so they are always aware and able to make sound judgement calls. Unfortunately, exhaustion is virtually a staple of the trucking industry.

Substance abuse

Substance abuse is a staple of the trucking industry that works in tandem with the long hours. It’s not at all uncommon for drivers to consume alcohol, marijuana, and oftentimes amphetamines in order to keep up with the stress and demands of their work. Additionally, it’s difficult for truck drivers to unwind and relax in the way most people do being that their work takes them away from home, friends, family, and anything that would offer them stability. This easily translates into an increased likelihood to consume substances that affect their ability to operate their vehicles safely.

Insufficient pay

In many ways, the inadequate pay is at the root of both other issues. You can imagine how it creates a feedback loop of destructive behavior. If a driver knows they need to push through their exhaustion to simply make their bills, they are much more likely to engage in the use of illegal substances to help them do so. Truckers are given tight deadlines, long distances, and even longer hours – if they aren’t pushing through unsavory conditions, their livelihood and well-being are at stake, making it much more likely for them to endanger others just to make ends meet.

The trucking industry is a dangerous one, but it shouldn’t create needless victims who never see justice. If you or a loved one has been affected by a trucking-related accident, call our office to access the resources you deserve.