Although federal law requires that drivers of commercial vehicles be at least 21 to receive a CDL, there's no upper age limit for licensing. This means, some truck drivers are working past a safe, reasonable age and should consider handing in their keys.
A Labor Shortage Forces Companies to Seek Older Drivers
Due to the globalized nature of the economy, the demand for commercial drivers keeps growing. This has led companies to actively recruit drivers who fall outside the traditional age of a commercial truck driver.
Older people are attracted to trucking for a number of reasons:
- Insufficient savings that require them to keep working
- High pay relative to other occupations that don't require a college degree
- Opportunity for sign-on bonuses
- Ability to work part-time or have a flexible schedule, especially with a smaller carrier
- Inability to find other suitable work due to age discrimination
- The chance to travel and see different parts of the country
Staffing companies often report that trucking positions are among the hardest jobs to fill, due to the amount of time away from home that is required. As a result, they often look to older candidates who are less likely to have children and other family commitments that require them to return home regularly. Older couples where both spouses are retired are particularly attractive candidates for cross-country driving jobs.
In 2016, drivers age 65 and older made up about 10% of people with a CDL. However, that number continues to grow due to the demands of the labor market and the general aging of the pool of existing CDL drivers. One website for CDL drivers found that the average age of a commercial driver in the United States is 52.4 years.
Problems Associated With Older Truck Drivers
Obviously, there are great variances in physical health among truck drivers. Some senior truck drivers can safely operate a commercial vehicle into their 70s or 80s, while others will become medically unfit drivers long before then.
Potential issues that could cause problems with a senior truck driver include:
- Slower reaction times
- Duller reflexes
- Cognitive difficulties making decisions and following directions in an unfamiliar area
- Vision trouble
- Hearing trouble
- Complications related to health issues such as diabetes or sleep apnea
- Complications associated with prescription medications
- Mistakes made due to inexperience, especially if the driver has not had a CDL for long
One 2016 CBS News report found a 19% increase in accidents involving commercial truck and bus drivers whose ages ranged from their 70s to 90s compared to their younger counterparts.
It is interesting to note that the aviation industry enforces a mandatory retirement at age 65 for pilots. CDL drivers, who carry just as much responsibility for public safety, are only required to meet the guidelines for older drivers in their state of residence.
Louisiana law requires a more frequent in-person renewal for drivers over the age of 70, but 17 states have no guidelines at all for older drivers. Since CDL drivers often cross state lines, a lack of federal oversight places everyone at risk.
How Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help
If you've been injured in an accident caused by a commercial truck driver, you are entitled to compensation for accident-related expenses. This includes:
- Medical care, including immediate needs and anticipated future medical expenses from an accident-related permanent disability
- Lost wages and applicable loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering, including both physical pain and emotional trauma
When filing a personal injury claim involving the driver of a commercial vehicle, you need to have an advocate on your side throughout the process. Insurance companies are focused on protecting the company's bottom line—not making sure you have the funds you need to move forward with your life.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's experienced legal team is committed to advocating for the rights of Louisiana residents injured in commercial truck accidents. Contact us online or call our office today at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation to discuss your legal options.