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Does the rising average age of truck drivers mean greater risk?

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2023 | Truck Accidents

Truck driving has long been one of the best-paid blue-collar professions. Commercial drivers may spend more time on the road than the average worker must commit to a shift at a factory or an office-based position, but they generally earn a premium wage for their efforts.

Although one might think that there would be a glut of aspiring truck drivers given the competitive wages and benefits often available, the opposite is actually true. Many trucking companies report great difficulty recruiting new drivers, and there seems to be a shortage of competent professionals. Not only is it difficult for companies to hire truck drivers, but the workers available for hire are generally older.

As of 2019, the average age of commercial drivers working in the United States was 46. In 1990, the average age of professionals with a commercial driver’s license was 36. What does the increasing average age of a truck driver mean for public safety?

Older drivers have more medical risks

In general, those who have spent years in the same profession are often highly skilled and competent. While that may be true for commercial truck drivers when it comes to the control of the vehicle, older age combined with a very sedentary job could be a reason for concern.

One of the top causes of semi-truck collisions is non-performance, meaning that a truck driver suddenly becomes unable to continue operating a vehicle. Sometimes, drivers fall asleep at the wheel. However, non-performance often relates to medical emergencies, including cardiac events, strokes and other sudden, debilitating medical events. As people grow older, their risks of having a sudden cardiac issue or developing a blood clot increases. The amount of time that drivers spend at the wheel can increase their medical risk as well by contributing to poor circulation and possibly weight issues.

There are certain practices in place to protect the public from the worst possible risks related to semi-truck wrecks, including limits on how long commercial drivers can stay at the wheel and mandatory health examinations to check for major medical issues that could compromise someone’s ability to drive safely. With that said, these practices are not always honored by trucking companies, which is one of the many reasons why crash victims can benefit from speaking with an attorney to explore their legal options in the wake of sustaining harm.