Aging Truck Drivers and the Dangers they Pose
New research suggests that older 18-wheeler and long haul truck drivers may be causing significant danger on the roads. According to a CBS News article, the American trucking industry is dealing with a shortage of qualified drivers. In an effort to continue operations, many companies are recruiting retired truck drivers. Ten percent of commercial truck drivers are 65 years old, or older. According to CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave, the rules of the roads have not kept up with the times, raising the issue:
Is more screening needed for commercial drivers?
- In the summer of 2009, a semi driven by a 76-year-old rolled on top of three cars, killing ten people
- On Aug. 19 in Newark, New Jersey, a bus was T-boned by another N.J. Transit bus driven by a 70-year-old, killing two people
- A couple days later, on Aug. 25, a truck hauling stones driven by a 74-year-old slammed into traffic in a construction zone in Binghamton, New York, injuring ten people
A CBS News analysis of crash data reveals that in just the last three years, 19 percent increase in accidents involving commercial truck and bus drivers in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. From 2013 to 2015, there were more than 6,636 truck and bus accidents involving elderly drivers in just 12 states.
“The industry is looking for truck drivers. There’s a shortage in truck drivers. So they’re not going to self-regulate. The only way that that could be done is on the federal level,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. James Loftis said.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration deputy administrator Daphne Jefferson acknowledged the increase in older commercial drivers. Her agency is currently studying the trend. She reported to CBS News, “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.”
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