I used to feel safe when I would see a commercial truck traveling next to me on the road. After reading some statistics comparing airline pilots to truck drivers, I am not so sure I feel that way now.
In your mind imagine a truck tractor with two trailers attached to it, sitting next to an airliner. Not a great deal of difference between the two in size. Granted the 747, for example, weighs over a whopping 735,000 pounds at take off; compared to a meager weight of around 150,000 pounds for a tractor trailer.
On the other hand, the traffic in the air has not yet gotten as congested as the roadways and 747’s do not regularly drive amongst 4000 pound passenger vehicles.
So, I was shocked when I saw the comparison between airline pilots and truck drivers when it comes to suitability:
Number of Pilots: 590,000
Number of Truck Drivers: 10,000,000
Number of commercial planes: 222,000
Number of commercial trucks: 8,000,000
Pilot age limits: 65
Trucker age limits: None
Airline Industry prohibition re: narcotics: yes
Trucking Industry prohibition re: narcotics: No
Flying hours limitations: 30/week; 100/month; 1000/year
Driving hours limitations: 77/week; 88/8 days; 330/month; 4000/year
Flying hours tracked?: yes — electronic tracking
Driving hours tracked?: yes — driver kept log
Federal Regulatory budget for airlines: $14,600,000,000
Federal Regulatory budget for trucks: $500,000,000
Sobering numbers as we drive our little 4000 pound vehicles next to those 80,000 to 140,000 pound trucks, at 70+ miles per hour; after the trucker has been driving — -how many hours?
If we add to the mix of driving distractions for truckers the following: texting, using laptops, cell phones, eating, and fatigue; we have a recipe for potential trouble. Truck operational problems further aggravate the situation: braking malfunctions and tire over wear, for example. Finally, road conditions: vehicles driven by other distracted drivers; ice, rain, Florida “black ice”; and escalating vehicle population. Taking these factors into consideration, together with the above statistics, best illustrates how dangerous it really is on our roadways.
So, don’t text; don’t speed, don’t drive after drinking; and BE CAREFUL out there!