According to a recent study conducted by CBS News, from 2013 to 2015, more than 6,636 trucking accidents involving elderly drivers were reported. The article also noted that within the past three years, there was a 19 percent increase in accidents combining both commercial truck and bus drivers who were in their 70s, 80s and 90s.
Could age be the main factor in the rise of these types of crashes?
Some attention has been given to link the eyebrow-raising practices by the commercial truck industry for actively recruiting senior drivers due to the need for more commercial truck drivers. Are these older truck drivers creating more danger for roadways? If so, should the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) take additional precautions during the hiring process? The writer notes that pilots have a mandatory retirement age – left unstated but implied was this: perhaps the trucking industry should require the same rule.
Trucking Accidents among Elderly Drivers
There may be a driver shortage in America’s trucking industry. CBS News stated that one estimate says 48,000 drivers are needed in order to move 70 percent of the nation’s goods. As a result, trucking companies are relying on the recruitment of retired men and women to handle the job, with those 65 years of age and older making up 10 percent of commercial vehicle operators across the United States.
Though, before age can be blamed for the trucking accidents that have taken place over the past few years (which happens to be a form of discrimination), it’s important to look at the different companies who have hired elderly drivers, and what other factors could be accountable.
Producers of another study conducted by CBS determined that trucking companies knowingly hire drivers with disqualifying conditions to save money, often resulting in a preventable trucking accident. They found that elderly truck drivers were creating more dangers on roadways due to the fact that these drivers had serious medical issues.
Trucking Industry Practices, Recruiting Older Drivers
Since it’s been reported that the trucking industry is facing a shortage, trucking companies have focused their recruitment towards drivers who are 65 years old and older. Elderly drivers often desire driving work to supplement their income. An article on a career site acknowledges that the trucking industry is encouraging older couples to drive together so that they could log double the miles that a single driver could log during a shift. The goal is to cut down on delivery times. With drivers working well past the age of retirement, the public and industry must consider that more screening may need to take place before commercial truck drivers are hired and permitted to be on the road.
Rose McMurray, a prior senior executive at the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, recognized the importance of reaction time and stamina in correlation to age, and had once considered applying frequent testing for older drivers.
“It clearly can result in a lot of political backlash . . . so state governments have grappled with this, the federal government has grappled with this . . . because the age discrimination laws really intervene,” she said.
The FMCSA’s Stance On Elderly Truck Drivers
Daphne Jefferson from the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator) is aware of the increase in elderly truck drivers, but commented in October 2016, “We are not quite at the point yet where we are ready to say one way or another if there needs to be a change in driver rules for, say, drivers over 65.”
Protecting The Public
We must be vigilant about ensuring public safety, as the trucking industry has been changing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety revealed that 3,852 people died in large trucking crashes in 2015 alone. Have you or a loved one recently been involved in an accident involving a commercial truck? If so, we offer our deepest sympathies. And while monetary compensation cannot undo the pain and suffering you’ve had to endure, you can contact us for support in your fight for fair compensation, and your right to fair recovery.
Contact Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys
At Fried Goldberg, more than 95 percent of our practice is dedicated to handling only truck accident and commercial vehicle cases. We offer free, no-obligation consultations, and with more than 75 years of combined legal experience, we are your best advocates. Contact us today by calling (404) 591-1800.