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Should truck drivers face mandatory retirement ages?

Could a labor shortage in the trucking industry be contributing to dangerous highway conditions? Some industry insiders have concerns it might.

The dearth of eligible truckers with valid commercial driver's licenses is causing trucking companies to turn to a different demographic group to drive the 19-wheelers needed to move consumer goods and raw material across the United States — senior citizens.

The recruitment efforts of elderly commercial drivers has been unabashedly aggressive, according to an undercover investigation done by CBS News. Approximately 10 percent of the current trucking workforce are older than 65, with recruiters hiring on new drivers in their 70s or 80s, as long as they can still pass the physical. Reportedly, some commercial truckers are older than 90.

While it might give many pause to consider that the driver of the big rig beside them in the fast lane is that old, it is not illegal to hire elderly drivers. If anything, the reverse is true, as age discrimination for employment purposes is prohibited by federal laws.

Yet, elderly drivers have been responsible for some horrific accidents and fatalities in recent years. Ten were killed in 2009 near the Missouri state line when a 76-year-old truck driver rolled his rig over three passenger vehicles.

Two New Jersey bus riders died this summer when another bus struck theirs in Newark. The driver was 70.

Only a few days later, tragedy struck again in New York. This time, the trucker, a 74-year-old stone-hauler, crashed into vehicles slowed down in a Binghamton construction zone, causing 10 more to be injured.

What is the solution here? Should older drivers be subject to more frequent, in-depth screenings to verify their mental and physical faculties are sufficient to allow them to operate these big rigs? Or should there be mandatory retirement ages for those holding CDLs?

If you have been injured in a collision with a commercial trucker of any age, you have the right to pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other losses.

Source: WINK News, "Are older commercial truck drivers causing more danger on nation’s highways?," Nov. 12, 2016

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