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How safe are older truckers on the highways?

There is a nationwide shortage of truck drivers to haul America’s goods — and it could be impacting the safety of the trucking industry. It’s estimated that in order to move at least 70 percent of the cargo for our country, there must be no fewer than 48,000 able-bodied truck drivers available.

This need has caused trucking companies to become more aggressive in their recruiting efforts. Many now target older drivers who in more prosperous decades might be enjoying their retirement years. Today, there are roughly 10 percent of truckers on the road who have already passed their 65th birthday.

While economic downturns and trucking industry demands encourage older truck drivers to stay on at their jobs or return to work behind the wheel, could these older truckers be contributing to unsafe driving incidents?

The problem the trucking industry faces is that driving rules haven’t yet caught up with the older driver trend. It’s likely that additional screening is necessary for older commercial drivers to remain safe.

CBS News analyzed crash data involving commercial truck drivers. They discovered that there was a 19 percent uptick in collisions where the truckers were in their 70s, 80s and even their 90s.

One driver in another state rolled his semitruck over three passenger cars, killing 10 of the occupants. A 74-year-old driver in New York hauling rocks crashed into stopped traffic in a construction zone, injuring 10 drivers and passengers.

No state is immune from the danger of older truckers since truck drivers regularly crisscross the country on their runs. One law enforcement officer commented on the industry’s dilemma, noting he has seen the carnage from accidents involving older truckers. “The industry is looking for truck drivers….[s]o they’re not going to self-regulate. The only way that that could be done is on the federal level,” he said.

Regardless of their age, if an at-fault truck driver’s negligence causes you to suffer injuries on a California freeway or anywhere, learn about your rights to seek restitution for your damages and losses.