A study released in 2020 reveals that tractor-trailer drivers in Michigan and around the country who have been on the job for less than a year are far more likely to be involved in accidents than more experienced ones. Researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute were not surprised to discover this when they studied questionnaires submitted by 9,000 commercial driver’s license holders. What they did not expect to learn was that older drivers with limited time behind the wheels of large commercial vehicles seem to perform much more poorly than similarly inexperienced younger truck drivers.
The researchers checked the questionnaire responses against data from the Motor Carrier Management and Commercial Driver’s License Information Systems, and they discovered that inexperienced commercial vehicle drivers who are 55 years of age or older are 3.7 times more likely to be involved in truck accidents and four times more likely to be involved in serious accidents than drivers of the same age who have been on the job longer. These were significantly higher than the crash rates of inexperienced drivers under the age of 35. The researchers believe that decades of experience with passenger vehicles could be making older truck drivers new to the job overconfident.
Lax training standards
Another problem may be the lax training many American truck drivers receive. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration introduced new training regulations in 2020, but they fell far short of the standards road safety advocacy groups had called for. Instead of setting strict benchmarks, the new FMCSA rules only require trainee truck drivers to be “proficient.” However, the regulations leave it up to instructors to decide what that means.
Suing truck operators
If you are injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, an experienced personal injury attorney could seek compensation for you by suing the owner of the truck as well as the driver in certain situations. An attorney could file a lawsuit against the trucking company if the accident was caused by an unqualified or poorly trained driver, lax maintenance, repairs made with substandard parts, or a failure to comply with FMCSA regulations.