While there’s really no maximum age limit regarding commercial truck drivers, there are physical requirements that go along with these demanding jobs that require men and women to sit behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler for hours on end. The life of a truck driver is a difficult one, already, and when you add advanced age into the mix, a truck driver’s day-to-day life becomes even more challenging. Very few home cooked meals, little to no exercise while on the road, sitting in a small space in the same position for hours, and erratic sleep habits all contribute to the grueling life of a truck driver.
The grueling lifestyle has led to fewer new drivers joining the industry. This is beginning to create a truck driver shortage that is greater than ever before, trucking companies are widening their scope of viable applicants to fill the many open positions for semi-truck drivers currently in the United States. A wider scope often means older applicants, and a truck driver shortage sometimes means trucking companies have to hire less-than-ideal candidates to fill so many open positions.
By hiring retired truck drivers or retaining drivers past their prime, trucking companies hope to get loads to their destinations in a timely and efficient manner. But are older truck drivers able to handle the rigorous demands of the job that is becoming more and more challenging? Evidence shows that older truck drivers may not be physically equipped to handle the tough demands of a commercial truck-driving job and that older 18-wheeler drivers may contribute to the high number of truck accidents in the United States.
How Age Affects Truck-Driving Ability
There are a number of health issues common in older drivers that may contribute to truck accidents:
- Cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia: Cognitive disorders can interfere with a driver’s mental acuity. An older driver may become distracted while driving more easily than a younger driver, and he may even have trouble remembering routes he’s driven many times in the past. Truck drivers must be mentally sharp and alert at all times in order to drive safely.
- Arthritis and joint pain: Sitting behind the wheel of a semi-truck for several hours a day can cause serious pain in young, healthy individuals. Older truck drivers who have arthritic joints may be in constant pain, and their ability to react and move quickly could be impacted.
- Vision and hearing loss: As we age, many of us experience hearing and vision loss. Older truck drivers may not even realize they’re hearing is not as good as it used to be, and they may not let employers know their vision has declined. Poor hearing and vision can certainly contribute to catastrophic truck accidents.
- Cardiac and neurological events while driving: We all know that as we age our chances of heart attacks and strokes increase. Having a heart attack or stroke while driving a commercial 18-wheeler can lead to catastrophic truck accidents resulting in serious injury and death.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that 3,986 people died in large truck crashes in 2016 with 17% of those deaths being truck drivers. Of the almost 4,000 people killed in truck accidents in 2016, 66% were in cars and other passenger vehicles and 16% were pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. The number of people who died in large truck crashes that year was 27% higher than in 2009, when it was the lowest its ever been since the collection of fatal crash data began over 40 years ago.
If you or a loved one has been in a truck accident, please contact us to schedule a no-cost consultation.