How could supply chain issues impact road safety in New Mexico?

You’ve probably heard about the global supply chain problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Even if you don’t fully understand the issue, you have likely experienced the shortage yourself when you tried to get particular gifts in time for Christmas or went to buy a new car. A disruption in the transportation of goods across the world means that American consumers can’t get the products they need and want when they’d like to have them. This could be a minor inconvenience or a major problem, depending on the product. However, another consequence of the supply chain problem could actually be an increase in traffic fatalities.

What Is Causing the Supply Chain Problems?

Numerous Semi-Trucks on a Busy RoadA number of factors go into the shortage of some goods consumers are experiencing right now. Worldwide factory shutdowns, increased purchasing by quarantined Americans, a scarcity of shipping containers, an insufficient number of dockworkers, and, finally, a shortage of truck drivers to deliver the goods that do get through create a perfect storm of problems, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to improve any time soon. While we might be able to get by for a while without certain products, we might not be able to avoid the dangers posed by the ongoing truck driver shortage across the country.

How a Truck Driver Shortage Endangers New Mexicans

Almost every product you use in your daily life spends some time on a truck. Whether it is a long-haul tractor-trailer or a local box delivery truck, the U.S. supply chain depends on trucks. When you drive across New Mexico on I-40 or I-25, you see this system in action. Semi-trucks dominate traffic on these highways. So what happens when there aren’t enough truckers and support staff available to handle this demand? Trucking companies put pressure on their existing drivers and take shortcuts to get as many drivers out there as they can. The result could be an increase in semi-truck crashes caused by any of the following:

  • Overworked drivers. The pressure to deliver loads for an understaffed trucking company could mean that drivers are on the road for too many hours without the breaks required by law. A fatigued driver is more likely to make a mistake that causes a crash.
  • Inexperienced drivers. In a rush to get new hires on the road, trucking companies might take shortcuts with training and practice driving. That means the driver of the semi-truck coming up behind you might not know how to handle his rig in poor weather or an emergency.
  • Mechanic shortage. Along with driver shortages, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified mechanics to perform pre-trip inspections, routine maintenance, and skilled repairs. This can mean that some trucks are on the road with faulty brakes, worn tires, and shoddy trailer couplings.
  • Dangerous policy changes. In an effort to improve the supply chain problem, lawmakers have lowered the age to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), increased weight restrictions, and fast-tracked new technology. It is not inconceivable that they could also increase driving hours and reduce break requirements to get the supply chain moving again. These changes make our highways much more dangerous places for passenger vehicles.
  • Autonomous technology. As advances are made in autonomous passenger vehicles, we are seeing some of these applications in semi-trucks. It’s possible that self-driving trucks—or trucks with driver-assist and driver-monitoring features—will lead to longer hours for truckers, but how safe is this technology? That is yet to be seen.

When it comes to boosting the U.S. economy, manufacturers, retailers, and even the government will do whatever it takes to keep things moving, even if it means sacrificing your safety as a passenger car driver or occupant. 

We Investigate Truck Crashes in New Mexico

At the Keller & Keller office, our Albuquerque truck accident attorney team will go to great lengths to determine the cause of the truck crash that left you injured. If the truck driver shortage or cost-saving measures contributed to the cause of your accident, we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve from the trucking company to recover from your injuries. Call our office at (800) 253-5537.


James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller