Despite all the breathless news stories about driverless vehicles—including driverless trucks and tractor-trailers—it’s unlikely that the job of truck driver is going away any time soon. The economy has improved over the past few years, and ordering all kinds of goods using the Internet—things that need to be delivered—is a regular solution for many. It’s estimated that 48,000 drivers move nearly three-fourths (70 percent) of all goods in the U.S.
Our country is actually experiencing a truck driver shortage, and trucking companies are busy wooing retirees. About 10 percent of all commercial vehicle operators are over 65. An investigation by CBS News found that a greater number of older drivers have become commercial truck drivers both because of early job loss due to the 2008 crash and the need for more income in their (perhaps forced) retirement. In general, larger numbers of people over 65, sometimes well past usual retirement age, are working in all jobs and industries. It makes sense that trucking, with its demand for drivers, would see an influx as well. But should we be worried about the age of those behind the commercial wheel?
What You Don’t Know…
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that, as of 2014, the American truck driver is about 50 years old on average. It’s not even unusual for those in their 50s to start driving commercial trucks for the first time in their lives. In fact, a number of companies establish minimum ages to drive for them—but there is no maximum age to drive a truck. (Federal law requires a driver to be at least 21 to drive interstate roads.) A number of trucking companies reportedly are more willing to hire older drivers because of life experience, both on the road and off, their judgment, and their work ethic.
But when does “mature” turn into “too old”? CBS News reported in late 2016 that, in the previous three years, there had been a 19 percent increase in accidents in which the commercial drivers had been in their 70s, 80s, and—would you believe it?—90s. And, in only 12 states, more than 6,636 accidents had 70-and-over truck drivers involved. The No. 1 state was Texas (1,658 accidents), with Florida (1,264) and Ohio (1,184) close behind. Alabama was fourth with 679 accidents.
…Could Kill You?
Deadly accidents involving elderly commercial drivers can and do happen:
- Summer, 2009: A 76-year-old tractor-trailer driver on I-44 rolled over three cars, killing 10 people.
- Late 2009: A Michigan truck driver aged 70 killed three people when he crossed a center line and hit a Chevy Tahoe.
- August, 2016: One New Jersey Transit bus was T-boned by another. The driver was 70 years old. In this tragedy, two people died.
In a serious crash without fatalities during August, 2009, a truck driven by a 74-year-old whose truckbed was full of stones caused ten to be hurt in a Binghamton, New York, construction zone accident.
Should commercial drivers be forced to retire at a certain age? Many folks have hotly have debated the topic. Some point out that commercial airline pilots can’t fly beyond 65. Should truck drivers be put under the same age limit? If so, what should it be? Some food for thought as our population ages and desires to remain useful.
When life goes wrong, we fight for what’s right.
Truck accidents can be extremely complicated both because of the large amounts of money often involved and because of the potential for multiple defendants. It is important to consult with a qualified South Carolina truck accident lawyer to make sure your rights are protected. If you’ve been in an accident with a truck, the Louthian Law Firm can help make things right. We’ll deal with the insurance companies on your behalf to help you get the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, repair bills, lost income and any other financial costs that the accident caused. Where appropriate, we’ll also seek compensation on your behalf for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses. With our hands-on approach, you’ll get exceptional results.