Crash Risks Increase as Truck Drivers Age
Though much focus of traffic safety advocates is on young and inexperienced drivers, older drivers may also pose a risk when they get behind the wheel. This is no different for commercial truck drivers who are getting older. As the baby boomer generation ages and with many people in the United States retiring later and late in life, the number of older truck drivers is steadily increasing. Some people even start truck driving much later in life as a way to see the country after they retire from a different career or office job. As long as an individual can pass the Department of Transportation driving test, they can be eligible to receive a commercial license whether they are older or not.
This leads some safety and health experts to wonder about the potential safety hazards of having older truck drivers behind the wheel of large commercial trucks that can cause severe damage and injury in the event of an accident. If you have suffered injury in an accident caused by an older truck driver, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer to discuss a possible case.
Challenges for older drivers
Organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH)1 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)2 recognize the potential risks of aging for drivers and offer numerous tips for drivers to stay safe. Aging can affect every driver differently—while some drivers will never face serious challenges operating a vehicle, others may have to surrender their driver’s license at a relatively early age. The most important thing is for a driver to recognize when they are facing challenges and to constantly assess their abilities to safely drive. The following are some reasons why an older truck driver may have difficulty:
– Driving requires cognitive attention to many different things at once, including the road ahead of them, the location of other cars on the road, cars entering or exiting the highway, cars signaling to change lanes, traffic signs and signals, and more. As cognitive faculties may begin to slow down in older age, some truck drivers may struggle to adequately pay attention to everything necessary to safely operate the truck. Hearing and vision loss may also contribute to challenges in paying sufficient attention while driving a truck.
– Driving also requires physical agility and coordination, as you must be able to switch from the gas to the brake pedal easily, correctly manipulate the steering wheel, use the appropriate signals, and sometimes all at the same time. If an older driver suffers from arthritis, muscle weakness, or other physical issues, they may not be able to physically operate the truck as well as needed in order to be safe. Sitting for many hours at a time may also contribute to joint stiffness or pain that can affect driving ability.
– Truck drivers often work long hours and many consecutive days on the road in a row. There is the chance that some older drivers may become fatigued earlier and may require more rest that required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours of service regulations.3 While some truck drivers will recognize their limits and request shorter trips or shifts, others may try to push through and risk falling asleep at the wheel.
These are only some of the reasons why aging truck drivers may pose a safety risk. If a truck driver notices certain challenges or weaknesses, they have a responsibility to undergo an evaluation to get an opinion on whether they are still fit to drive. If a truck driver ignores warning signs and causes an accident, they should be held responsible for any injuries that result.
Contact an experienced Clearwater truck accident attorney for a free consultation today
At the Dolman Law Group, we strive to hold negligent truck drivers and other parties liable for the losses of injured accident victims. Truck accident cases can be complex, so you always want an experienced truck accident lawyer handling your case. Please do not hesitate to call our office today at 727-451-6900 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756