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Older drivers may contribute to rise in truck accidents

Men and women past the normal age of retirement can still be found working in at least one industry: trucking. Two factors that seem to contribute to this trend are the slow economy and the shortage of truck drivers. Drivers who cannot afford to retire at 65 remain behind the wheel, and others looking for work are welcomed at driving schools. However, some worry that the number of seniors driving trucks may be contributing to the rising number of truck accidents in New York and across the country.

Because of concerns over age discrimination, there is no federal limit for how old a truck driver can be. Data shows that drivers as old as 90 may be on the road driving big rigs. While the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recognizes that reaction time and stamina decrease as people get older, some truck driving schools accept anyone who can pass the physical. One study showed that 70 percent of the country's goods are transported by 48,000 drivers, so trucking companies may be struggling to make their deliveries.

The job also seems enticing to many older people since good money and benefits may not be easy for seniors to find. Nevertheless, according to a new study, in the past three years, the number of accidents involving commercial vehicle drivers past the age of 65 increased 19 percent. One 74-year-old driver was hauling a load of stones when he crashed into a line of cars waiting at a road construction site in New York. Ten people were injured.

Some feel the trucking industry should follow the lead of the aviation industry and retire drivers at age 65. This is not likely to happen while drivers are in short supply, and many feel the trucking industry cannot be counted on to regulate itself. In fact, it may take lawsuits filed by the families of those who are killed or injured in truck accidents before any changes take place.

Source: CBS News, "Are older truck drivers causing more danger on nation's highways?", Oct. 18, 2016

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