To solve the legitimate problem of the shortage of experienced truck drivers, the trucking industry is pushing to put teenaged truck drivers behind the wheel. This has many people concerned since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently issued data that fatal collisions involving trucks are at the highest rate in 29 years. The question becomes, does adding teenage drivers into the trucking industry cause more issues on our public roadways? What does hiring these teenagers to drive these massive, unpredictable vehicles mean to others traveling on the same roadways?
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates that the trucking industry today is short about 50,000 drivers, significantly up from a shortage of 36,000 only two years ago. One way to solve this problem, according to trucking industry lobbying groups like the ATA, is to lower the interstate truck driving age requirement from 21 to 18.
The push from the trucking industry for the right to hire younger drivers has already yielded proposed legislation. In March of 2018 a bill was proposed that would allow 18-year-old commercial vehicle drivers to cross state lines while hauling freight.
Some in the trucking industry believe hiring teen drivers is dangerous. Research has consistently shown that drivers between the ages of 18 and 25 are more likely to cause a crash than any other age group. A 2018 study recently conducted concluded that teen drivers are four times more likely to cause a wreck than an adult driver between 20 and 30 years old. Even some trucking industry lobbying groups believe the industry is going too far by trying to put drivers fresh out of high school in the cabs of 80,000-pound commercial vehicles.
Even though teenaged truckers aren’t allowed to haul interstate freight yet, the truck driver shortage has already led to growing ranks of inexperienced and undertrained drivers behind the wheels of big-rig trucks. Many trucking companies have loosened their hiring practices and cut corners on training, which trucking safety experts agree is one factor fueling the continuous year-over-year rise in deadly truck wrecks.
If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a truck crash, especially if the trucking company hired an inexperienced or dangerous driver, the attorneys at Bordas & Bordas, PLLC are advocates for trucking accident victims. Please give us a call with any questions.