Semi-truck driving and safety depend on the physical condition of the trucker and statistics regarding the physical state of the semi-truck driver are very important. In fact, this information is much more difficult to uncover – particularly in this day and age of numbers and data. What follows is what I am able to share.
*A recent survey found that the average age of semi-truck drivers is 44.4 years old. This is expected to increase in the coming years as fewer individuals turn to drive semi-trucks as a career choice. This can be good because a middle-aged driver tends to be safer than a very young commercial driver.
*A not insignificant number of semi-truck drivers are aged 65 and older. Research has shown that all aspects of the human experience deteriorate more rapidly as we age – including everything from sight to hearing and reaction times to the physical capability to handle machines of this size and magnitude. While middle-aged drivers tend to be the safest, it is a fine line between experience and when an older driver should not control 80,000-pound vehicles.
Several semi-truck tragedies were the cause of ‘elderly’ semi-truck drivers – such as the one that claimed up to ten lives when the 70-something driver failed to recognize that traffic was stopped on the highway and he plowed through a number of vehicles. The hidden costs of large truck accidents are overwhelming in Texas.
Semi-truck driving standards are of importance to all of us. The safety standards that apply to commercial truck drivers are designed to protect the public to the extent possible. There is a balance between getting the number of truck drivers we need to keep our economy moving and making sure our roadways are safe.
Section 391 of the Federal Regulations sets the general qualifications of drivers and has very specific rules that must be followed for the driver to be qualified. One of the most important rules is contained in section 391.11(b)4, which provides a truck driver who must be physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle. Subpart E contains rules regarding physical qualifications and examinations a truck driver must meet in order to be qualified to drive.
The medical examiners have a set profile they must look at in order to determine if the driver is physically able to operate a big rig. However, as a practical matter, there’s only so much we can expect out of a physical examination and there are many truck drivers down the road that probably are not as safe as we would hope from a physical perspective.