Trucking Industry Trends Open Doors for Inexperienced Drivers – WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana weather

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – An extra three cents for a bag of potato chips might not seem like a big deal. But Steve Gold, owner of 160 Driving Academy, the nation’s largest commercial driving school, says the extra cost could give trucking companies more money to spend on safety training, and so could save lives.

This is why brokers are so popular [trucking] industry, everyone wants the lowest cost, no one wants to pay for these things. Until you, you know, kill a family of four, Gould said.

Just two weeks ago, police said Victor Santos was drunk when he crashed his semi truck into a school bus in northern Indiana. The accident left 16 people injured, many of them teenagers. Documents show that Santos operated under his own company with only one truck. I-Team 8 found it to be an even more disturbing trend in the trucking industry.

“Yes, this person has a commercial driver’s license, but it’s like giving your 16-year-old the keys to a Ferrari, you know, there’s no way to safely operate that car,” Gold explains. “I saw a massive supply-demand imbalance for truck drivers [and] There wasn’t enough. And the effect was that our toilet paper didn’t hit the store shelves in time.”

According to federal data from FTR Transportation Intelligence showing from July 2020 to October of this year, more than 233,000 new carriers entered the market, responding to growing demands. 70% of the new tankers were just one truck, including Victor Santos. Gold says that while many may be trying to meet the demands of the industry, safety training isn’t always first.

[There were] 5,000 dead on the highway last year. These were both new drivers and experienced drivers. “All of these things are avoidable,” Gold said.

At the 160 Driving Academy, Gold says students are required to complete at least 160 hours of driving during the four-and-a-half-week program. He says afterward students are greatly encouraged to work for a major company, such as Pepsi or Amazon. Gold says the larger companies will provide additional safety training and mentorship.

“We all tell them not to start their own company for at least two years. Go work for a bigger employer,” Gold explains. “Then if you are a safe driver, have enough money and want to go out on your own, go for it. But even then, don’t try to do it yourself.”

I-Team 8 found that many small businesses rely on getting jobs through intermediaries.

“As long as you meet the broker’s minimum criteria, and you’re on their list of approved carriers, you can go to an app, find any load, sign up to pick it up, and bring it anywhere you want. Brad Cosgrove, partner at Chicago-based Clifford Law Firm, explains, With no additional supervision.

According to FTR Vice President Avery Vise, “The number of new carriers is dropping per month, presumably due to the same financial factors that are driving more carriers out of business—rising diesel prices, weak spot market rates, and increasing financing costs.” However, the number of new haulers is still well above the pre-pandemic standard. The reasons for this flexibility are complex, but we believe it is due to a combination of business model shifts in trucking and technological advances in trucking capacity management.” A significant share (about 29%) of carriers that entered the market between July 2020 and October 2022 have already failed — presumably due to the same factors that caused carriers to fail to rise. While we have not done a comprehensive analysis of the historical data, we believe that this performance is no worse than the pre-pandemic benchmark and may, in fact, be better.”

Gould says he’s been working with companies that are starting things like scoring drivers, helping them get a CDL and adding 50 hours of individual coaching in order to raise the standards for safety training. However, he says, in recent years, drivers have been switching from one company to another. In some cases, they make the switch after working only six months at the company. He says this can make it difficult for companies to keep track of driving records and experience levels, adding to the concern that safety is not always put first.

“All of these things are avoidable,” Gold says, referring to Santos’ collapse. “This is what kills me, everything is avoidable.”

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