As driver-shortages in the trucking industry become increasingly severe, the industry has had to look outside its traditional hiring pools for qualified drivers. The shortage also has put a damper on any federal and state attempts to better regulate the driving skills required to drive commercial vehicles or require ongoing testing at regular intervals. Regulators, not wanting to make the shortage of drivers worse, appear to have put everyone’s safety on the roads at risk by refusing to implement driving tests for drivers over a certain age.
Are Employers Hiring Dangerous Drivers?
Employers generally follow the rules when hiring drivers. Additionally, they do require driving tests and physicals but are somewhat constrained by discrimination laws that prevent them from considering a person’s age, when hiring.
Even so, they could still be doing more to ensure that both the older and younger drivers they hire have the driving skills to handle the job safely. The industry is mostly self-regulated, which means that it will regulate itself as little as possible. Contrast this with the airline industry where pilots are mandated to retire at 65.
What Does This Mean if You’re on the Road, Too?
If you are driving on any street, road or interstate highway, your safety partially depends upon the other drivers around you. You can’t control how well they drive, if they fall asleep at the wheel or lose control in bad weather. A big factor in how successfully the other driver handles these driving challenges is experience.
Another is age. Younger, newly-hired drivers lack experience in emergency conditions. Older drivers, while they have experience, are more susceptible to fatigue, poor vision, memory loss and slow reaction time.
How Can You Avoid an Accident With a Big Rig?
Driving on congested roads and freeways requires concentration and skill. The more you are aware of your surroundings, including a constantly-changing group of cars behind you, ahead of you and next to you, the better you’ll be able to react to an unexpected move one of them could make. The following advice may seem obvious, but try to take the following preventative actions while on the road:
- Stay off your cell phone in congested areas and during any weather event that makes driving more difficult, like rain, snow or fog
- Keep a safe distance from all vehicles and be mindful of the stopping distance trucks need if you decide to make a sudden move in a non-emergency situation
- If a truck is following you too closely, move into another lane and let the driver pass you
- Never assume that the truck driver can see you when either of you are making turns or are next to each other on the road
Who Can Help if You’re in a Trucking Accident?
The first thing you should do is call 911 and attend to anyone who may be injured, if you can do so safely. Get the names of witnesses and take photos if possible. Then, contact our office so that an investigator can preserve evidence of the accident before the trucking company’s insurance adjuster contacts you. We hope that you’ll never be in this situation. If you are, we are here to help you through.