For people who make a lifelong career out of truck driving in West Virginia, it may be a genuine passion. Maybe they love traveling from state to state. Those who work on an independent contractor basis enjoy setting their own schedules. Still, the truck driving industry struggles to find people like this to join company ranks.
In fact, America has been experiencing a truck driver shortage for quite some time. This is not necessarily because fewer people want to work as truck drivers. The problem may more accurately stem from increased needs for truck drivers to deliver heavier loads, faster. A growing economy coupled with the preference for instant gratification feeds this growth.
To keep up, many companies now recruit older drivers out of retirement to hit the roads. According to CBS News, 10% of the truck driving workforce are now drivers over the age of 65 years old. Many of these drivers are agile and in good health. If they struggled with saving for retirement in the past, it now affords them the ability to pad savings before leaving the workforce again.
However, older drivers in control of 18-wheelers often put other drivers at risk. Slowed reflexes and a cocktail of medications often affect seniors’ alertness and quick responses while driving. Because of this, they sometimes cause some of the most serious accidents on the road. Crashing a car is one thing, but running an 18-wheeler off the road or through a red light is far more serious.
According to the AAA Foundation, people from the ages of 16 to 19 years old have the highest crash rates. This is due to inexperience and less maturity. Generally, the older people become, the less likely they are to get into an accident. However, after 69 years old, the crash rate starts to increase again.
Drivers over the age of 80 have the highest rate of fatal crashes in any age group at 3.85 per 100 million miles driven. The only other age group that comes close are drivers ages 16 to 17 with a fatal crash rate of 3.75.