Many Louisiana residents spend a significant amount of time behind the wheel in their day-to-day lives, and with this in mind, it is important to stress the safety issues that come being on the road with large trucks. With aging drivers and heavier loads, the hazards posed by trucks are increasing.
According to the Press Herald, 2016 saw 3,852 fatalities on American roads that involved large trucks. This number has been rising since 2009, which had the lowest amount of deaths involving trucks since the 1970s. The weight of the load a truck carries has a large impact on how damaging a crash can be, which is why there are 3.5 million safety checks at truck weigh stations each year.
Yet drivers have more to fear than just the weight of the trucks being driven. As CBS News reports, a truck driver shortage has caused many companies to focus their recruiting efforts on drivers who are older than 65. Some estimates put the commercial truck drivers who are older than 65 to be about 10 percent of all drivers employed by trucking companies. Age discrimination laws make trucking companies fearful of excluding a driver based on his or her age, but the increase in overall trucking accidents could correspond to the rising age of drivers. Louisiana’s neighbor to the east, Alabama, had 679 crashes between 2013 and 2015 involving truck drivers over the age of 70, and 66 of these crashes involved drivers age 80 or older, including some in their 90s. Some companies are hiring drivers well into their 80s, who may have less stamina but are still able to pass the physical allowing them on the road.