When the safety of everyone on the road is on the line, many argue that truckers should be forced to retire after a certain age
Have you ever dreamed of seeing the country from behind the wheel of a semi-truck? For a growing number of older Americans, truck driving is an appealing way to enjoy retirement or launch a second career. Once children are grown and out of the house, many older adults like the idea of taking advantage of opportunities to travel. Driving a semi might seem like a good fit and, in fact, many seniors are earning their commercial driver’s license to do just that.
According to a CBS report, truckers over 65 years old now make up 10 percent of the nation’s truck driving workforce. Unfortunately, older truckers are also causing an increasing number of serious truck accidents.
Report Links Older Truckers to More Semi-truck Accidents
An analysis of truck accidents prepared by CBS News looked at truck accidents occurring between 2013 and 2015. According to that report, there was a 19 percent jump in semi-truck accidents involving truckers in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. There were over 6,600 semi-truck accidents involving older truckers in these age ranges across just 12 states, including Texas.
A highway patrol officer who investigated a fatal semi crash involving a trucker in his 70s says the driver shortage in the trucking industry is responsible for the surge in older truck drivers. “The industry is looking for truck drivers. There’s a shortage of truck drivers. So they’re not going to self-regulate. The only way that could be done is on the federal level.”
Currently, there is no age restriction in the trucking industry. Truckers don’t have to retire at a certain age, and trucking companies don’t have to impose age limits on their workforce. Carrier companies are permitted to hire any truck driver regardless of age. Some carriers report hiring people in their 80s and even 90s to drive semi-trucks.
This is a sharp contrast to other mass transit industries. For example, commercial airline pilots are required to retire at age 65 regardless of their health.
Texas Truck Accident Lawyer Discusses Age and Truck Driving
Texas truck accident lawyer Amy Witherite states: “We all know someone who is older and still capable of doing activities people half their age can’t perform. No one likes the idea of putting restrictions on people just because they are older. However, age limits exist in certain industries for a good reason. Truck drivers have a demanding job. It’s physically exhausting and emotionally grueling. When the safety of everyone on the road is on the line, many argue that truckers should be forced to retire after a certain age.”
If you’ve been injured in a semi-truck crash, or you have lost someone you love in a truck accident, compassionate and experienced legal help is available today. Contact a Texas truck accident lawyer right away to discuss your rights and options. It’s the little things that count after a truck crash, because these wrecks can bring your life to a complete and total stop. We keep life running and make sure that you get back on your feet. Give us a call today!
Fatalities in truck-involved crashes have risen four years in a row
Most people have heard that driving is the most dangerous form of travel. It outranks every other form of transportation, including trains, boats, and airplanes. But did you know that large trucks have caused more fatalities in a single year than commercial airliners have in the past 45 years combined?
Scary Stats About Truck Crashes
Semi-trucks cause more fatalities in a single year than commercial jets have caused in almost five decades.
It’s a startling statistic. And, unless something changes, it’s one that is probably only going to get worse. It may come as a surprise to learn that even people from pro-trucking groups take that position.
As contributor Howard Abramson of the New York Times points out, “[truck] accidents…are going to continue to happen unless Congress stops coddling the trucking industry.” Interestingly, Abramson himself was an executive at American Trucking Associations, a pro-trucking group and the largest national trade association for the trucking industry, between 1998 and 2014.
Abramson also points out that trucking-related deaths rose by 17 percent between 2009 and 2013. “Fatalities in truck-involved crashes have risen four years in a row… The crashes are killing not only car drivers but also, during 2013 alone, 586 people who were truck drivers or passengers.” According to the CDC, truck and bus crashes cost the economy $99 billion every year.
Abramson also notes that “large trucks are disproportionately involved in fatal accidents. While heavy trucks accounted for less than 10 percent of total miles traveled in the United States during 2013, according to federal data, the NTSB recently reported that they were involved in one in eight of all fatal accidents and one-quarter of all fatal accidents in work zones…”
Conversely, deaths caused by car accidents fell by three percent during the same time period. Overall, there are fewer car accidents with each passing year, but the truck accidents just keep going up.
Texas truck accident lawyer Amy Witherite states: “Car accident rates are falling, but truck accident statistics continue to jump every year. There are a couple reasons for this. One is that cars are safer than semi trucks. They are equipped with advanced safety technology like air bags and collision avoidance systems. However, even the safest, most advanced cars can’t compete with an 80,000-pound fully loaded semi-truck. Unlike typical motorists, semi-truck drivers are constantly under pressure to make deliveries — and make more deliveries — on time. Their employers push them to do more on increasingly lower amounts of sleep and rest. No matter how safe cars may become, unless the trucking industry takes steps to change its practices, serious and fatal truck accidents will still happen at an alarming rate.”
If you’ve been injured in a semi-truck crash, or you have lost someone you love in a truck accident, experienced legal help is available for you today. Contact a Texas truck accident lawyer right now to talk about your case. Our job after you suffer an injury in these accidents is to keep your life running, and to help you get through your daily activities until you recover physically and regain your peace of mind.
A basic mistake or failure to tighten a restraint can lead to tragedy
Any type of semi-truck accident has the potential to be catastrophic, but an accident with a logging truck is often fatal. Not only is the tractor-trailer itself a hazard, but the logs weigh hundreds of pounds. They can rollover vehicles and crash through windows, killing a car’s occupants.
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a logging truck, you deserve help, support, and compassion from experienced truck accident lawyers who can explain your rights and your options. If you’ve lost someone you love in an accident with a logging truck, you may be entitled to compensation for wrongful death.
Catastrophic Accidents with Logging Trucks
It’s always a nerve-racking experience to drive near a semi-truck packed with massive logs. Although truckers secure logs with clamps and chains, even a basic mistake or failure to tighten a restraint can lead to tragedy. If a trucker is tired or in a rush, they might forget to balance the load properly, or to make sure the ropes holding the logs in place are tightly secured.
In a 2008 case in Texas, five family members just beginning a road trip vacation were tragically killed when a logging truck struck their vehicle in an intersection.
In a March 2017 case, an Ohio man was killed when his car was hit head-on by a logging truck. The state trooper who investigated the crash said “there’s just nothing left of the car.” The impact was so severe that it forced the entire engine into the car’s passenger compartment. Neighbors told the media that the impact was so loud they didn’t even realize it was a truck accident. They left their home to investigate the source of the loud noise.
In May 2017, a woman was injured when a logging truck spilled logs onto a North Carolina highway. Media reports state that her vehicle was pinned under the logging truck, and that emergency personnel had to extract her from her vehicle.
Texas Truck Accident Lawyer Discusses the Dangers of Logging Trucks
Dallas injury lawyer Amy Witherite states: “The logging trucks trailers are open to the elements, which means that the logs themselves have nowhere to go but into the road if the straps or restraints securing them fail. Unlike an enclosed trailer, these open-air trailers put other motorists at risk of being struck by a falling log. Sadly, these terrible accidents usually involve fatalities.”
If you’ve been hurt in an accident with a logging truck, don’t wait to get legal help. Talk to an experienced Texas truck accident lawyer about your case. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other damages, including lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses. A knowledgeable Texas truck accident lawyer can help you get the money you deserve. We keep life running for our clients so they can dedicate themselves to healing from their injuries and getting back on their feet.
Learn why the health of commercial truck drivers is so important
A commercial truck driver’s health is an important issue, because truck drivers who are impaired by a medical condition may still choose to operate their vehicles, and that impairment could lead to a truck wreck.
“The health of a commercial truck driver is becoming a bigger issue,” stated Truck Wreck Attorney Amy Witherite of Eberstein Witherite. “In most other occupations, a health issue typically won’t have a direct impact on other people in terms of their own well being. But with commercial truck drivers, adverse health does not necessarily mean that they take the time off to recuperate. And that decision could lead to an incident on the road such as a truck accident that impacts other motorists.”
Study Sheds Some Light On Truck Driver Health
Per an article in Science Daily, a recent study conducted by Utah-based researchers may offer some insight into how a truck driver’s health affects road safety: (1)
“Commercial truck drivers with three or more medical conditions double to quadruple their chance for being in a crash than healthier drivers,” according to the study.
And lead researcher, Matthew Thiese, an Assistant Professor at the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, agreed with Witherite’s assessment about the potential for collateral damage.
“What this data is telling us,” Thiese stated, “is that with decreasing health comes increased crash risk, including crashes that truck drivers could prevent.”
The study analyzed the medical records of nearly 50,000 commercial drivers and found that more than a third of them suffered from at least one medical condition that “had previously been linked to poor driving performance, from heart disease, to low back pain, to diabetes.”
Researchers matched the drivers with at least one medical condition and one truck accident, and found that drivers who had a minimum of three conditions had a higher number of truck wrecks.
Drivers with at least three medical conditions and one truck wreck were placed in a high-risk category, because they were more likely to be involved in injury accidents.
The results may indicate that while one medical condition among truck drivers does not pose a risk of an accident, a combination of health conditions increases the likelihood of a truck wreck.
CDC Also Weighs In
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently conducted its own study regarding the overall health of long-haul truck drivers.
Per the CDC website, (2) the study analyzed data from 1,670 commercial truck drivers throughout the U.S., and found that a staggering 69 percent of them were obese, as defined by having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
Another 17 percent of the drivers were found to be morbidly obese, meaning that 86 percent of those commercial drivers were significantly overweight.
This is troubling, because only 30 percent of working Americans are obese, and seven percent are morbidly obese.
Per the article: “Obesity increases the chance for type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, cancer, joint and back pain, and stroke. These health conditions can disqualify a driver from receiving their commercial driver’s license and essentially take away their livelihood.”
And per an article in Corporate Wellness Magazine, (3) half of all commercial truck drivers in the U.S. are obese, and the incidences of diabetes among them are 50 percent higher than in the general population.
More than 80 percent of truck drivers report having high-blood pressure, which is higher than the national average of 58 percent.
But the article also indicated that many of these medical conditions are preventable:
“…54 percent of commercial drivers smoke cigarettes and only 8 percent exercise. With the proper lifestyle choices, these drivers can reduce their disease risk and increase their life expectancy and quality of life.”
Although the FMCSA does require that prospective commercial truck drivers undergo and pass a thorough physical prior to employment, many conditions such as hypertension and obesity occur after a driver has already obtained a license.
Thankfully, some large carriers are beginning to understand the importance of wellness, and are instituting exercise and fitness programs as well as mental health education to improve the wellbeing of their drivers.
How We Keep Life Running
After you suffer injuries in a truck accident, the team at 1-800-Truck-Wreck is most concerned about restarting all the things in your life that come to a stop after this type of event.
This can be as simple as getting you to your doctor’s appointments via one of our drivers, or as complicated as ensuring that you have some money in your pocket while waiting for a settlement.
“I’ve been in a wreck,” stated Amy Witherite, “so I know how it can stop your life cold. Our firm restarts your life and gets you back on your feet, and we do it by treating you like a member of our own family.”
The human brain can’t handle two or more tasks at once
According to a USA Today report, a March 2017 semi-truck crash that killed 13 people was caused by a truck driver on a cell phone. The crash occurred in a rural part of Texas outside San Antonio, and the 13 individuals who were killed were riding in a church bus.
A witness to the crash said he was driving behind the semi-truck and saw it moving erratically prior to the accident. He even called the sheriff’s office in two separate counties as he drove and told the departments that they needed to send deputies to do something about the truck. The witness said the truck crossed the centerline three times while he observed it. Sadly, the authorities didn’t get to the scene in time to stop the crash.
Helpless to stop the semi-truck, the witness saw it plow into the church bus. The witness told the media that he immediately stopped his car and rushed to the scene to help the injured. The truck driver, later identified as a 20-year-old man, admitted at the scene that he had been texting at the time of the crash. The media reports that 12 people died at the scene, and another died later on at the hospital. The occupants of the church bus were on their way home from a three-day religious retreat.
What Are the Rules for Truck Drivers on Cell Phones?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the federal agency in charge of regulating the trucking industry. Under FMCSA rules, truckers aren’t allowed to use handheld devices behind the wheel. The rule actually applies to all drivers of commercial vehicles. Truckers are only allowed to use hands-free devices while their vehicle is in motion.
The FMCSA has conducted research that shows that truckers are six times more likely to be involved in a crash if they use a handheld phone.
Texas Truck Accident Lawyer Discusses Truckers and Hands-free Phones
Texas truck accident lawyer Amy Witherite states: “Although federal law prohibits truckers from using handheld phones behind the wheel, truck drivers can still use hands-free devices. However, many studies have shown that hands-free phones are just as dangerous and handheld devices. The National Safety Council points out that even a hands-free phone can be a distraction, as it forces the brain to concentrate on more than one task at a time. The problem is that the human brain can’t multitask. No human brain can handle two or more tasks at once. Instead, the brain switches back and forth between two or more tasks, and doesn’t give its full attention to any of them. This is how truck drivers on cell phones cause serious accidents, even when they abide by the rules for cell phones.”
If you’ve been injured in a semi-truck crash, or you have lost someone you love in a truck accident, compassionate and experienced legal help is available today. Contact a Texas truck accident lawyer right away to discuss your rights and options. The team at EW Lawyers is committed to keep life running after a truck wreck stops your life in its tracks. No one can prepare you for a truck wreck but we can help you get back on your feet during this difficult time.