Do Older Truck Drivers Put Us All At Risk Asks Truck Accident Lawyer Rand Spear?

photo of two old men
October 26, 2016
Legally Reviewed By Attorney Rand Spear, Esq.

Older truck drivers have become way more common and accidents involving them are on the rise says Philadelphia truck accident lawyer Rand Spear.

Workers in many industries are growing older just like the general population. One of those industries is commercial trucking. Unlike other workers truck drivers are at the controls of 80,000 pound machines, traveling at highway speeds, often in conflict with other vehicles. The trucking industry is facing a serious shortage of drivers so older truck drivers are driving longer and older job candidates are being hired into the industry. Philadelphia truck accident lawyer Rand Spear helps clients injured in commercial truck accidents.

By one estimate the trucking industry is short about 48,000 drivers. With tens of thousands of openings companies are targeting retirees as potential drivers. Those older than 65 years old are about 10% of all commercial vehicle operators in the U.S. CBS News reports that as the economy declined more workers of retirement age worked longer, some well beyond the age of 65. Unfortunately older truck drivers are not immune to accidents.

  • A semi driven by a 76-year-old rolled on top of three cars stuck in a traffic jam in Oklahoma, killing 10 in 2009.
  • In August in Newark, New Jersey, two New Jersey Transit buses collided. The driver at fault was a 70 year old. Two people were killed.
  • Just days later a truck driven by a 74 year old slammed into traffic in a construction zone in Binghamton, New York. Ten were injured.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention age related declines in vision and cognitive functioning (such as the abilities to reason and remember) and physical changes can affect some older adults’ driving abilities.

CBS News analyzed crash data and found that,

  • There was a 19% increase in accidents with commercial truck and bus drivers in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s in the last three years.
  • There were more than 6,636 accidents involving older truck drivers in 12 states from 2013-2015.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in the 1990’s considered creating skills tests for older commercial drivers because they understood reaction time and stamina can lessen with age. The proposal was never enacted, reports truck accident attorney Spear.

  • It caused a political backlash against the federal and state governments looking at the tests,
  • The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act bans employment discrimination based on age above 40 years old, and
  • Trucking companies were struggling to fill open jobs.

Truck driving schools actively recruit seniors promising an income, good benefits and the ability to travel. CBS hired a 70 year old former Texas state trooper and sent him with a hidden camera to a Pennsylvania truck driving school recruiting retirees. A recruiter told him there was no age limit. All the students need to show is that they are physically able to get behind the wheel and drive. The recruiter stated two former students were probably in their 80’s.

When contacted afterward the school defended itself by stating regulations covering the trucking industry have no age limit for drivers (but they must pass a physical) and it would be illegal for them to discriminate based on age.

No one should be discriminated against because of his or her age, says truck injury lawyer Spear, but if a commercial truck driver is not capable of safely driving a truck he or she should be off the road. Given the toll time takes on us all trucking companies and government regulators should take steps to make sure older drivers aren’t a threat to the rest of us on the road.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident involving a commercial truck, contact Philadelphia truck accident attorney Rand Spear to schedule a free consultation to discuss the accident, how the law may apply and your best legal options for obtaining compensation for your injuries. Or you can call the truck accident law firm at 888-373-4-LAW 24/7.