While warm weather and an abundance of amenities that appeal to seniors make Florida a magnet for aging Baby Boomers, the state’s high number of seniors appears to have had a potentially worrisome side effect. Florida is the site of more accidents involving elderly drivers than any other state in the U.S. While this trend would be alarming regardless of the type of vehicle driven by these seniors, a recent story from CBS News suggests that elderly truck drivers might be the cause of an increased traffic safety threat. A significant shortage of truck drivers throughout the U.S. has inspired commercial carriers to undertake a new recruiting strategy of hiring older retirement aged truck drivers. In this blog, our tractor-trailer accident attorneys examine the threat to public safety suggested by the results of this new study.
Older truck drivers point out that they tend to have more experience, understanding of their rig, and cautious driving habits. However, the age-related declines in physical and mental faculties of the elderly could impair their ability to handle vehicles that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Elderly truck drivers face a more daunting task than older drivers of passenger cars. Truckers must cope with driving long distances frequently under difficult traffic conditions and tight time constraints. Although a fair portion older truck drivers might be among the safest and most skilled truck drivers, trucking companies generally do not screen employees to differentiate between these safe drivers and elderly drivers that should be removed from service.
The CBS report examined truck crash data involving truck drivers over the age of 65. According to the report, drivers past retirement age were involved in 6,630 collisions between 2013 and 2015. Because the study focused on just twelve states, the actual number of trucking accidents involving older truckers can be assumed to be much higher. The study also found a sharp increase in semi-truck accidents involving older drivers. The percentage of crashes involving truckers age 70 and above increased by almost twenty percent during the period of the study. Semi-truck crashes now account for approximately ten percent of all trucking accidents. Florida truck drivers over the age of seventy also have been involved in 1,264 big-rig accidents during the same period.
While tractor-trailer drivers and commercial carriers can be liable for injuries they cause in semi-truck collisions, trucking companies and commercial drivers will contest the relevance of the advanced age of the driver. Federal law imposes no more rigorous testing on elderly truckers, nor do federal regulations impose age-related restrictions. Compliance with minimum federal standards and regulations does not insulate a trucking company or driver from liability. However, trucking companies who have drivers involved in collisions because of age-related infirmities are likely to contend that failure to impose closer monitoring or limitations does not constitute a lack of reasonable care. The trucking company might even contend that disparate treatment toward elderly truck drivers might even constitute workplace age discrimination. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does have special rules that force retirement on pilots at age 65.
Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Trucking Accident Victims and Families
If you are injured in a semi-truck accident caused by a negligent truck driver or indifferent trucking company, our Miami tractor-trailer injury attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer clients the assistance they need to pursue the results they desire. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our skill and dedication have earned us an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.