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Researcher: underpaid truckers raise the risk of big rig crashes

Anyone who has been on the interstate highways in the Raleigh area knows that tractor-trailers make up a significant portion of the thick, fast-moving traffic. We count on 18-wheelers to bring in goods and carry out products to the rest of the nation.

According to an economics professor and researcher, underpaid truck drivers are under tremendous economic pressure to work very long hours. Unfortunately, those long hours contribute to the frequency of truck accidents and the devastating injuries and fatalities that occur in those crashes.

A recent article by Dr. Michael H. Belzer, a Wayne State University economics professor and researcher, about overworked and underpaid truckers points out that a few years ago, a federal government survey revealed that long-haul truckers work about 50 percent longer hours than the typical American worker. They also “regularly violate” regulations restricting their hours on the road, he writes.

Belzer also points out that his own research, as well as other studies, demonstrates that there’s “a strong link between pay and safety.” He argues that because truck drivers are underpaid, they are compelled to work long hours that put them and other motorists at risk.

He also states that his research shows that tired truckers are often aggressive drivers, which makes “it significantly more likely” that they will be responsible for crashes. He proposes not only pay raises for truckers, but also paying them when their vehicles are unloaded and loaded (time they are currently typically not compensated for).

Belzer argues that better pay would ease the economic pressures and allow truck drivers to take more time off, which would, in turn, make them safer drivers.

It would also, of course, make it safer to share the road with large commercial vehicles.

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