September 11, 2010
If you've ever witnessed a traffic jam start as drivers slow down to look at an accident, you'll understand the wreck that's about to hit the trucking industry.
Complaints about aggressive truck drivers have led not only to a crackdown by state highway patrols, but also the implementation of a driver-safety measurement system intended to weed out drivers who are deemed unfit to sit behind the wheel of a big rig. Known as the Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010, it will instead cause the industry -- which had been on the road to recovery -- to crash. And there will be a big jam in every corner of the economy as a result.
You're doing a heckuva job ...
Like a lot of government programs, the regulations are well intentioned but will have dire consequences. Trucking companies are having trouble finding qualified drivers, and analysts estimate that the rules will reduce the driver pool by as much as 7%. And now, even though large trucks are involved in just 6% of all accidents nationwide, a rote, just-check-the-boxes rating mentality means that Werner Enterprises (Nasdaq: WERN) says it will have to let some drivers go even though they have unblemished accident histories.
Many drivers, for example, aren't allowed to supervise the loading of their trucks, but if a load shifts or spills, they're held accountable and will have points counted against them in the rating system. Same with companies that have their own maintenance and repair shops, where drivers are still responsible for any vehicle defects. And any warnings the police issue are held against drivers just as if they'd gotten a ticket.
... but don't come back!
The trucking industry has lost almost 150,000 jobs since 2008 (Continue to read more...)