Driving a big commercial tractor-trailer can be hard work. Hauling a rig weighing up to 80,000 pounds for hours with no rest can physically and mentally tax just about anyone. So when it comes to being an unsafe trucker, which plays a bigger role – age or inexperience?
A study from earlier this year sought to answer that question.
In April the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute released the study (“Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Risk Based on Age and Driving Experience”), citing a dire shortage of commercial truck drivers. The shortage is largely due to retiring older drivers.
The obvious answer to the shortage is to bring more first-time drivers into the fold. VTTI wanted to know how risky an influx of younger and/or inexperienced truckers could be. The group incorporated the records of 9,000 truckers to help determine what influence youth and experience had on:
· Commercial truck driver crash rates
· Involvement in crashes by over-the-road truckers
· Truck driver moving violations
The truckers in the study ranged from 21 to 65 years old, with anywhere from 6 months to 30 years of experience.
Crashes Involving Inexperienced Truck Drivers
Both a truck driver’s age and inexperience were factors in commercial trucking accidents. But the study found that the less experienced truckers were more likely to crash, regardless of age.
Even more likely to crash were older truck drivers with a minimum of experience; For example, a 55 year-old trucker with less than one year of experience. And regardless of age, the first year for a trucker is the most dangerous for crashing.
Given these findings, the researchers offered advice to trucking companies. They advised a more widespread use of onboard technology designed to reduce reckless truck driver behavior, such as dash cameras.
The authors also recommend that companies focus more heavily on truck driver training. In particular, mentoring programs that pair more experienced truckers with those just starting out.
Problems with Training New Truck Drivers
This is not the first time problems with truck driver training have become apparent – not even the first time this year.
In 2017 federally mandated guidelines for new truck driver training were established, going into effect this year. What passed three years ago was less stringent than the originally conceived rules, thanks to truck industry opposition.
As first outlined, the new-trucker training included 30 hours of time behind the wheel; 10 hours of which were actually on the road.
But all driving provisions were scrapped when the final version of the Entry-Level Driver Training rule was adopted. New drivers need only score well enough in classroom testing to hit the road in an 18-wheeler.
Even worse, in the face of continuing trucking opposition the federal government earlier this year announced it was suspending the truck driver training rules for two years, until 2022.
The trucking industry actively fighting safety measures, such as proper training for new truck drivers, is a common occurrence. Those who often pay the consequences for this negligence are innocent men, women and children.
If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a crash caused by a commercial truck driver, speak to a truck accident lawyer about your legal options.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog August 13, 2020