In response to the shortage of truck drivers in the U.S., trucking companies have turned to recruiting retired men and women to fill those job. In a study conducted last year by CBS News, between 2013 and 2015, there were more than 6,636 trucking accidents involving older drivers, and that there was a 19% increase in accidents involving both commercial truck drivers and bus drivers who were age 70 and older. As the trucking companies recruit these older drivers, might they be contributing to potentially higher numbers of traffic crashes on the highways?
The CBS article highlighted these stories of truck crashes caused by older truck drivers:
- A driver who was 76 years old who rolled over the top of three cars killing ten people in Oklahoma in 2009.
- In Newark, NJ, a bus was T-boned by another bus driven by a 70-year-old driver. Two people were killed in August 2016.
- A truck hauling stones driven by a 74-year-old driver slammed into traffic in a construction zone injuring ten people in Binghamton, New York in August 2016.
This is a sensitive issue in many ways because there are federal laws against age discrimination in employment. So, it would be illegal for trucking companies to place an arbitrary age limit on truck drivers. Also, given that everyone is different, not every driver over age 65 is going to automatically be an unsafe driver simply because they are over age 65. Given that as people age, reaction time and stamina can decrease, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration considered requiring skills test for older drivers of commercial vehicles, but those plans were scrapped because there was a shortage of drivers and because of age discrimination laws.
While it is not fair to say that just because a driver is older they are going to be a hazard behind the wheel, one of the challenges with older drivers is that they tend to have more disqualifying medical conditions. Another CBS News story revealed that commercial truck drivers can hide underlying medical conditions that could disqualify them from working. Often, with age comes an increase in those medically disqualifying medical conditions.
Right now, in the United States if you can pass the medical screening test, you can become a truck driver regardless of your age. The airline industry is also facing a shortage of pilots, but they require pilots to retire at age 65.
Any kind of age discrimination in employment is against the law, but if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) strengthened and enforced its regulations about training and health qualifications for all drivers on a regular basis, they would not be discriminating against older drivers. Ask the family members of those ten people who were killed on an Oklahoma highway on the way to a family celebration if it might be time to address the issue of making sure that every truck driver regardless of age is indeed in healthy enough condition to drive safely.
The lawyers at Crandall & Pera Law are here to help you recover the compensation you need to get back to your life after your injuries from a truck accident. For help with any questions regarding a truck accident case, please phone Crandall & Pera Law’s Kentucky office at 877.651.7764, our Ohio office at 877.686.8879, or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.