Trucking Industry Pushes for Teen Drivers to Address Shortage
To solve the legitimate problem of the shortage of experienced truck drivers, the trucking industry is pushing for a new solution that could put many ordinary drivers at risk: teenaged truckers behind the wheel. But with fatal truck wrecks occurring at the highest rate in 29 years according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is it wise to throw fuel on an already-growing fire by adding teen truck drivers into the mix?
In this article, we’ll talk about the potential implications of hiring teenagers to drive these massive, unpredictable vehicles and explain what you can do if you’ve been injured by an inexperienced or negligent truck driver.
Trucking Industry Push Leads to Proposed Legislation That Would Allow Teens to Drive Interstate Commercial Trucks
Today, the average truck driver is around 50 years old — 10 years older than the typical worker in comparable careers in manufacturing and construction. Truck driving no longer attracts young workers like it did in previous decades, and trucking companies are running out of able-bodied drivers as a result.
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 2018, Republican Senator Todd Young from Indiana introduced the DRIVE-Safe Act into the U.S. Congress. This bill would allow 18-year-old commercial vehicle drivers to cross state lines while hauling freight.
RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: The Truck Driver Shortage Is Getting Worse — And More Dangerous
Even Some Trucking Industry Insiders Believe Hiring Teen Drivers Is Dangerous
Research consistently shows that drivers between the ages of 18 and 25 are more likely to cause a crash than any other age group. A 2018 study from the Teen Risk and Injury Prevention Group at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which analyzed data from 2006 (before universal smartphone usage), showed that teenage drivers frequently drive distracted. The study concluded 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.
“There really isn’t any question that younger drivers are going to be more likely to crash and more likely to be involved in serious crashes,” Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, told Business Insider in an interview. “The statistics are clear. And that it might somehow be different if they were driving 40-ton vehicles — that’s absurd.”
RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Get These 3 Important Pieces of Evidence After a Truck Accident
Inexperience and Undertraining Already Puts Truck Drivers at Risk
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 has suffered injuries in a truck wreck, it’s important to work with a lawyer who has a track record of success handling truck crash cases. Only an experienced truck wreck attorney will have the resources and experiences needed to investigate a complex truck accident claim, uncover all the causes of a crash, and hold negligent trucking companies and drivers accountable.
Contact Seattle Truck Law if You’ve Been Hurt in a Trucking Accident
If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a truck crash, especially if the trucking company hired an inexperienced or dangerous driver, Seattle Truck Law Attorney Morgan Adams is here to help. With years of experience and a sole focus on large vehicle cases, Mr. Adams is a powerful advocate for trucking accident victims and an experienced trial lawyer who won’t hesitate to fight for your rights in court.
Please call Seattle Truck Law at 866-580-HURT (4878) or complete this brief online contact form if you need help. We offer free consultations to help you understand your legal options, and we handle cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you’ll only pay fees or case expenses if we get you a settlement or win your case in court.
Adler, A. (2018, October 4). Trucking fatalities reach highest level in 29 years. Trucks.com. Retrieved from https://www.trucks.com/2018/10/04/large-truck-fatalities-29-year-high/
Premack, R. (2018, September 5). The trucking industry wants to hire teenagers to solve its driver shortage, but some truckers say it’s a ‘ludicrous’ idea that could put everyone on the road at risk. Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/teenage-truckers-drive-safe-act-driver-shortage-2018-9
Pearce Stevens, A. (2018, October 11). Here’s what puts teen drivers at greatest risk of a crash. Science News for Students. Retrieved from https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/heres-what-puts-teen-drivers-greatest-risk-crash
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.