Those as young as 18 years-old can now drive 18-wheelers throughout the continental United States.
Younger drivers are at great risk for being involved in motor vehicle crashes. So will we now see an increase in fatal trucking accidents with younger truckers on the road?
A new transportation spending bill included a provision that, for the first time, allows 18, 19, and 20 year-olds to drive semis across state lines. The only caveat is that they must have learned to drive trucks in the military.
In 2014, motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of death for those 15 to 24 years old. More than 6,500 men and women died in a car or truck crash, representing over half of all fatalities in this age group.
Research shows that driver error is the leading cause of trucking accidents in the United States. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study includes other causes, such as brake problems with big rigs, but driver error and negligence – inattentiveness and poor decision making, for example – were far and away the major reasons for truck crashes.
Now we’re adding into the mix of truck drivers on interstate highways an age group that makes more serious mistakes on the road than any other.
Young Driver Errors Leading to Fatal Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- In 2013, 35 percent of male drivers between 15 and 20 years old involved in a fatal crash in 2012 were speeding
- In 2013, 17 percent of drivers aged 16 to 20 involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had a blood alcohol content at or above the legal limit of .08 percent
Additionally, other research has shown that the majority of serious crashes involving teenaged drivers are caused by:
- Driver inattention – failing to properly scan the road ahead for possible dangers
- Driving too fast for road conditions
- Being distracted by something in or outside the vehicle
Why are we now letting younger people get behind the wheel of trucks that weigh tons? Online shopping is growing, meaning more products are being moved by truck. But the truck driver population is aging. Trucking companies are finding it difficult to keep up with demand for drivers, so they pushed for the younger driver provision, despite the possible catastrophic consequences.
If you had a family member die in a crash caused by a semi or you were seriously hurt in a trucking accident, contact an attorney who represents drivers hit by trucks to hold accountable any and all who acted irresponsibly.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.