Should teenagers be driving tractor trailers?
How do you feel about the thought of an 18-year-old behind the wheel of the 40-ton truck next to you on the highway?
A new transportation bill includes legislation that would allow 18-year-old drivers to drive tractor trailers across state lines. Not surprisingly, safety advocates are baffled.
Currently, drivers 18 and older can obtain a commercial license to drive a big rig in most states but are not allowed to drive across state lines until the age of 21. It is true that this means that a young driver could legally travel long distances across his/her home state but not to closer places just over state lines. But that is not a justification for opening up the possibility for interstate travel. As Jackie Gillian, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, puts it, “We should be considering how to limit teen truck drivers,” not expand their driving privileges, if we are to improve safety on our nation’s roads. It is certainly questionable that an 18 or 19-year-old should be allowed to drive an 80,000 lb truck at all.
Teenagers are undoubtedly the segment of the population most likely to be in vehicle crashes, to begin with, and that’s when they’re behind the wheel of a sedan. And 18-year-old drivers are two to six times more likely to get into a crash than their 21-year-old counterparts.
The job and lifestyle of a truck driver are characterized by strenuous physical labor and long hours and can be especially taxing to a young an inexperienced person. For example, truck driver fatigue is perhaps the biggest concern we have when it comes to the trucking industry, and teenagers are highly prone to sleep deprivation due to the fact that their brains and bodies are still growing during this time in their development.
Truck driving is among the most dangerous occupations in the U.S., even for the most experienced truckers. It hardly makes sense to allow the most crash-prone group of drivers to be behind the wheel of the deadliest vehicles on the road, in one of the most dangerous occupations.
And, trucking isn’t only dangerous for the drivers of big rigs. Truck crashes are on the rise, but most often it’s not the trucker who gets seriously hurt or killed, but rather the drivers and passengers in smaller vehicles traveling on the highway.
To be sure, the trucking industry faces challenges to meet consumer demand and attract a new generation of drivers as today’s truckers get closer to retirement. But as we look to the future of the trucking industry, under no circumstances can we compromise safety.
If you or a loved one have been injured while driving a tractor trailer, or have been hit by a truck in a car accident, contact our truck accident lawyer. Someone will be available to answer you 24/7, and we welcome your questions. Email us, or call at 855-866-5529.
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