Older adults in the trucking industry may have an increased risk for collisions, putting themselves and those with whom they share the road in danger of suffering serious injuries or death. To help fill the industry’s driver shortage, many trucking schools and companies have turned their recruitment efforts toward people in their retirement years. The American Trucking Associations reported a shortage of approximately 60,800 drivers needed to safely transport goods locally and nationally. Faced with health challenges associated with aging, older truckers may have a greater likelihood of causing serious trucking accidents.
Crash Risks Increase with Truckers’ Age
As commercial motor vehicle drivers age, they may see an enhanced risk for wrecks due to age-related factors. Age affects every person and driver differently. Some of the most common age-related declines people may experience, which may impair their abilities to safely operate large trucks include decreased visual functions and reduced judgment, decision-making, and memory. Driving commercial vehicles differs greatly from driving passenger cars, and these and other such effects may impede truckers’ vehicle control, lane position, braking, and detection of roadway and traffic dangers. Consequently, they may lose control of their vehicles or fail to stop or otherwise react in time to situations that may arise on the road, which may lead to serious trucking accidents.
FMCSA Age Requirements for CMV Operators
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the trucking industry’s governing agency, imposes certain age, health, and other requirements for people of all ages to obtain commercial driver’s licenses. However, these requirements do not set a maximum age for truck drivers. Instead, the FMCSA only stipulates that drivers must be at least 21 years old to operate in interstate commerce.
Common Health Problems for Older Truck Drivers
As truckers age, they may experience health conditions and other ailments that impair their driving. Some such problems include the following:
- Vision problems
- Hearing difficulties
- Muscle atrophy and weakness
- Cognitive declines
- High blood pressure or heart disease
The FMCSA requires all licensed and would-be drivers to submit to medical examinations. These exams aim to certify that drivers are in good health and able to safely operate large trucks and tractor-trailers. Should older truckers continue to work without receiving approval from an approved medical examiner and the trucking companies continue to employ them, they may both bear financial responsibility for damages resulting from accidents caused by these or other age-related driving impairments.