Mar 1, 2021
More than 100 vehicles piled up in a single February crash in Texas, involving trucks as well as cars. Six people died. That same month, 40 vehicles were involved in a pile-up in Iowa. After that crash, an Iowa State Patrol officer tweeted, “Truckers, all you are is an 80,000 pound sled on ice.”
Of course, truck drivers are perfectly aware that it is difficult if not impossible to stop a truck safely when the roads are covered in snow and ice. So why do trucks keep going when the roads get bad?
No surprise: trucking companies make it very difficult for drivers to decide not to go through a storm. For instance, a truck driver in Illinois reported that he asked if he should drive into Texas when he heard reports of the massive storm approaching. He was sent to go ahead anyway, into the mess.
Trucking companies put the entire risk on their workers. A manager at one company, Cargo, reported: “We rely on our drivers to tell us when the roads are not safe to be on.” But he admitted he is reluctant to reroute drivers because “Then you got a lot of extra miles,” in other words, extra money you have to pay the drivers.
The companies could give the truckers the real power to decide if it is safe to drive—for instance, by giving them paid time off for winter storms. Instead, they push drivers to make deliveries—putting the truckers, and everyone else on the road, at risk. It’s just one more way that this system puts profit before human life.