Posted On: October 21, 2006 by Christopher T. Hurley

Trucking companies push profit over safety

Why does it seem like nearly every morning you hear a traffic report describe a serious incident involving a semi truck that took place during the overnight hours? The Dallas Morning News , in an excellent series of articles on tha hazards caused by the over the road trucking industry, gives us an idea:

One of the chief legacies of the federal government's deregulation of shipping rates in the early 1980s, which made it possible for virtually anyone with a truck to go into business, is that trucking has become fiercely competitive. The vast majority of trucking companies operate along the margins of profitability, and about 40,000 go out of business every year, said Jerry Donaldson, senior research director for the nonprofit Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

Corporate America has leveraged this competition to push shipping rates even lower. It has also put more pressure on trucking companies to deliver loads at a specific time, as part of "just-in-time" inventory management that lets companies keep fewer products and spare parts on hand and use trucks as rolling warehouses. Late drivers can lose a load, money, even a customer.

In response, trucking companies push their truckers hard.

The series describes a number of cases my firm has handled in Illinois. I will comment on the series in the next several posts.

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