Do Younger Truck Drivers Cause More Accidents?

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younger truck driver

In general, younger drivers of all vehicles cause more accidents because they lack the experience of older drivers. The same is true for truck drivers, making for potentially dangerous situations on the road. 

There is currently a truck driver shortage, and due to the many problems that have arisen from that shortage, people as young as 18 years old are now legally allowed to drive commercial trucks, tractor-trailers, and big rigs across state lines. Without the proper training and experience, these drivers could cause an increase in truck accidents. If an inexperienced truck driver caused an accident, the injured person or the family members should consult with an attorney to discuss the legal options available for the case.

Young Truck Drivers

The DRIVE-Safe Act, passed by Congress in 2021, allows 18-year-olds to drive large commercial trucks across state lines. This new law provides for a two-year test program, and according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are an expected 40,000 or more new truck drivers participating in this test program.

The law has placed some conditions on these young drivers participating in the test program. Some of these conditions include:

  • All young and new drivers must train with an experienced driver at least 26 years old and with at least five years of experience in interstate travel.
  • All young and new drivers must have at least 80 hours of commercial truck driving experience.
  • All training must occur in new trucks with the latest safety features, including advanced emergency braking systems and speed limiters set to a maximum of 65 miles per hour.

The implementation of requirements for training younger drivers could make for changes industry-wide and is regarded as beneficial by many in the transportation industry. In fact, many commercial driving safety advocates are pushing for some of these safety features to be mandated across the industry. 

Commercial Truck Accidents

Distracted driving causes many accidents and thousands of deaths per year. Automated braking systems, like those required for training young truck drivers, can reduce rear-end collisions by over 70 percent.

Absent these safety implementations, there is opposition to letting such young and inexperienced drivers behind the wheel of vehicles that weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds, many times greater than a regular family sedan.

 Some safety groups provide statistics showing that commercial truck drivers under the age of 19 are four times more likely to be in a fatal crash. They also state that 19 to 20 year old commercial truck drivers are six times more likely to be involved in a deadly accident.

While the market demand for truck drivers is real — a need which predates the pandemic but which has certainly been exacerbated by it — safety advocate groups are concerned this is the wrong approach. Many argue the risks far outweigh the benefits of unblocking the supply chain that has caused shortages in products for retailers all over the country. For those who oppose programs for young truck drivers, these moves are driven simply by businesses valuing profits over safety. 

What to Do if You Are in a Commercial Truck Accident

Given the turmoil around these programs for young truck drivers, it  is prudent to keep in mind the steps you need to take in an emergency situation,  if you or a loved one is struck by a commercial truck.

Here are the most important steps you can take:

Call 911

Depending on the severity of your crash, you may not be able to make this call on your own. If you can, ask a witness or passenger to do so. This call will send emergency medical personnel to the accident scene, where they will evaluate you and treat you for any minor injuries. They will also take you to the hospital for further treatment if your injuries are more severe. The other important part of the 911 call is that it alerts police to the accident scene. They will speak with everyone involved in the crash, and witnesses. Police will survey the scene, damage to vehicles, stationery objects in the road (like signs, traffic signals and barriers) and skid marks on the road. All of this information will be put together in a police accident report. The police accident report will provide valuable information for insurance companies and courts to determine what caused the collision.

Take Pictures and/or Videos

If you can, take pictures and video of the crash, the injuries and the damage to vehicles, property and stationary objects on the road like stop signs and traffic signals. You may not be in a position to do this either; so if possible, ask a trusted friend, passenger or family member to help with the task. Getting pictures and video of the entire accident scene can provide important evidence of your accident. 

Ask Witnesses for Contact Information

While the police will speak with witnesses to gather information for their accident reports,  not all witnesses will wait around for the police to arrive. It is a good idea to get contact information for each witness so your legal team can speak with them and understand what they saw. While you want contact information for attorneys or insurance companies, do not engage in a conversation or assign blame at the scene. 

See Your Doctor

Even if you have been treated at the hospital, it is a good idea to see your regular physician. No one knows you better and they can help you chart a course for your recovery. They will also be sure to keep detailed records of your injuries and how they have affected your ability to live your life.

Keep Records

Records from your doctor will be vital evidence to show how your life has changed since the accident. You should also keep copies of your hospital records, plus any insurance statements and letters you receive. Your legal team will want to review this information.

Call Your Auto Insurance Company

Let your insurance company know you were in an accident but do not give them a statement, even if you are prompted to do so by the insurance agent. Your insurance company is not looking out for your best interests. Their goal is to pay out as little money as possible and that means that if they can find you even somewhat at fault for the accident, they will do so. Your best course of action is to alert your insurance company to the accident and then let your legal team speak to them on your behalf.

Keep a Personal Injury Journal

Sometimes the best evidence of how your life has been affected comes in your own words. That is why you should keep a personal injury journal. By writing in your journal every day, you ensure the details are recorded. They can help paint a clear picture of exactly what the truck accident did to your life.

Call a Trusted Lawyer

The last thing on your mind after a truck accident may be calling a lawyer. However, this should be one of the first things you do, because accidents are complex and far more so when they involve a commercial truck. 

Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Can Help

Our Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton understand the complex laws around motor vehicle crashes in Maryland. Initial consultations are free and can be set up by calling 800-547-4LAW(4529) or filling out an online form.

We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.