There is a severe shortage of truck drivers in America. Experts estimate the U.S. is missing approximately 48,000 truck drivers are required to better move goods across the country. As a result of this shortage, trucking companies are recruiting retired truck drivers and putting them back out onto the road. As of now, 10 percent of commercial vehicle operators are 65-years-old or older, according to an investigation by CBS News. However, it’s possible these elderly drivers are causing the number of truck accidents to increase.
Between 2013 and 2015, there were more than 6,636 truck accidents involving older truck drivers in just 12 states. CBS News analyzed crash data and found there was a 19 percent increase in traffic accidents involving bus drivers or truck drivers in their 70’s, 80’s or 90’s in the past three years.
Should There Be More Regulation for Older Commercial Drivers?
While elderly drivers may do their best to stay safe on the road, age can make it more difficult to do so. Safety experts predict that in 10 years, baby boomers will be responsible for 25 percent of all fatal traffic accidents. Unfortunately, as drivers get older, reflexes and reaction times weekend. Additionally, the following are other causes of car crashes involving elderly drivers:
- Memory – As we age, remembering either directions or traffic laws may become increasingly difficult.
- Eyesight – Weakened vision may increase the likelihood of the driver missing important traffic signs or crossing over lanes.
- Hearing – The ability to hear sirens, honking or other engines is more important on the road than many realize.
- Drowsiness – Certain conditions and medications can cause a lack of focus while driving.
Bearing all of these in mind, it’s a wonder why more regulations aren’t implemented for older commercial drivers, given the size and hazards associated with truck accidents. In the 1990’s, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration proposed regular skills test for older commercial drivers. However, the idea was shelved due to the shortage of labor and lack of age restrictions. Additionally, there are age discrimination laws that forbid discrimination against elderly people in the workplace.
While the aviation industry faces a shortage of pilots, it has a mandatory pilot retirement age of 65 and does not put lives in danger despite its shortages. The trucking company should follow suit.
Spevack Law Firm is a New Jersey personal injury law firm that fights for those injured in truck accidents. We have offices in the Iselin, New Brunswick and Teaneck areas.