They were on their way to St. Louis to see their son and brother become an elder at his church—a husband and a wife and their two sons. But they never arrived. On I-44, near the Oklahoma state line, a truck lost control and tumbled into traffic. Ten people lost their lives that day, and this family was among them, but what caused this crash? A member of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol says he believes the truck driver’s age was a major factor.
Should Retirees Be Allowed to Drive Tractor Trailers?
The driver of the 18-wheeler in Oklahoma was 76 years old and he is only one among an increasing trend of accidents involving elderly truck drivers. CBS News found that over the last three years, accidents involving truck and bus drivers over 70 have increased 19 percent. Between 2013 and 2015, there were 6,636 accidents involving older drivers in just 12 states, and some fear the trend could keep growing.
Right now, the trucking industry is suffering a severe driver shortage. Some experts are even estimating that the trucking industry is 48,000 drivers short. In light of such a crippling shortage, many truck companies are hiring wherever they can, and one of their key hiring pools comes from the 65+ crowd. The industry is recruiting and training retirees, and it is hiding under federal age discrimination laws to do so. However, the aviation industry already forces commercial pilots of retire at age 65.
Though many experts question whether senior citizens should be behind the wheel, trucking companies insist that they test their older driver’s fitness before allowing them to drive. But can the industry be trusted to self-regulate? We already have problems with trucking companies pushing drivers to go faster and drive longer, can they be trusted to identify elderly drivers who can’t handle the long haul?
Should truck drivers have age requirements? Are there tests that could better identify drivers who can’t handle the work? Should the federal government intervene? Tell us what you think on Twitter and Facebook, and keep following your Macon truck accident lawyers on this blog for more updates.