You’re not imagining things. Semi truck traffic is increasing on the country’s highways and as a result, crashes with semi trucks are on the rise as well. In fact, people are reaching out to 18-wheeler accident attorneys in Austin and other major U.S. cities in record numbers. What is behind this phenomenon? Well, like most other things, it harkens back to the pandemic.
The main driver behind the increase in semi truck traffic is the corresponding increase in online shopping that became a way of life during quarantines. People got used to ordering what they need online and having it shipped directly to their doorstep. While there were many things people didn’t like about those pandemic months, online shopping wasn’t one of them. Shoppers fell in love with this convenient method of making purchases and they aren’t going to give it up.
All those packages have to get to their customers somehow and semi trucks are the primary means of shipping products from warehouses and manufacturers to their recipients. Even if the first leg of a package’s journey was on a plane or ship, their last leg is almost always a truck. Logistics companies and departments have had to bulk up their truck fleets to meet the demand and now those trucks are on the road.
Supply Chain Issues
Most people have been impacted by the supply chain issues that rippled through nearly every industry that can be traced back to manufacturer shutdowns and panic buying during the pandemic. Now that those disruptions are being corrected, a backlog of products have to be shipped to their recipients. Companies don’t want their customers waiting any longer than they’ve already had to wait to get their orders, which means more trucks are needed to handle the additional loads.
While companies could ship these backordered products by train, which would be a cheaper (but slower) option, it’s much easier to book a truck. And even though it costs more to ship freight by truck than by train, businesses have shown a willingness to pay more to get their products in the hands of their customers as quickly as possible.
Moreover, experts don’t think the surge in 18-wheelers will decrease even after the supply chain issues are completely worked out. They believe that as the economy recovers, companies will have to restock their depleted inventories and industries that were hit hard by the supply chain problems, like construction, will experience a heavy demand for materials. Vendors will have to respond by boosting their truck fleets.
The final factor in why there are more semis on the road than ever before is that while the number of trucks is increasing, the number of containers is not. This means there are fewer containers than trucks, so many times, truckers are driving without a container to get the chassis to where a container is located so it can pick up a load. This isn’t efficient and it costs businesses thousands of dollars every year, but again, companies are desperate to get their products moving again.
With more 18-wheelers on the roads than ever before, it means the highways are less safe for passenger vehicles simply because they’re out-sized and outweighed by these large trucks. So, be aware that you’ll encounter more truck traffic when you’re out and about and take precautions to keep yourself safe.