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21 CHAPTER THREE TRUCK CARRIER INDUSTRY Large Truck Crash Causation Study 4. Do you assign routes to your older drivers differently than to your other drivers? Knipling (2009) reports that nearly all long-haul commercial drivers are between middle 20s to middle 60s in age. The 5. In your experience, do you believe that older driv- older driver population of commercial vehicles is, therefore, ers need to be regulated or licensed differently than younger than the older driver population at large. The Large young commercial drivers? Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) (2007) reports that in multi-vehicle crashes, older commercial drivers (over age Somewhat surprisingly, of the six carriers interviewed 51) were found at fault less than any other age group. Fur- none knew how many drivers it had over age 60. In all cases, thermore, of all 10-year age cohorts in the LTCCS, truck human resource personnel stated that they did not keep age drivers ages 61 to 70 "had the lowest percentage of critical data. The few safety officers who were questioned reported driver errors, by a wide margin" (Knipling 2009, p. 80). that they rely on each driver's medical and driving records to make any decisions about driving assignments. Officially, at least, age of the driver is not part of the decision process. Industry's View There was remarkable unanimity across the interviewees. Several carriers and other industry professionals were con- Officially, at least, older drivers are not seen as a unique sub- tacted to ascertain if the industry is treating older commer- set of the commercial driver population. They are not treated cial drivers differently from other commercial drivers. The differently in terms of hiring, assignments, or schedules. carriers and their representatives were promised anonymity Some interviewees pointed out that older drivers tend to be because of the possible sensitivity of the subject matter. the more senior drivers in the company and may, by virtue of seniority, have better assignments (i.e., assignments with less Five of the carriers are national in scope. They have driv- stress and more convenient schedules). There was no support ers on the road for extended lengths of time and operate in for different licensing requirements for older drivers. all the 48 contiguous states. The sixth company is a regional carrier whose drivers are rarely on the road for more than 4 In general discussions with knowledgeable professionals days at a time. The primary person interviewed in every case in the carrier community, some observations were gener- was a human resources person. We also did a few informal ally agreed. Because older drivers are most often also senior interviews with current and former commercial drivers and drivers, they may also be driving shorter or otherwise less safety experts. demanding routes. Older drivers know when they are tired and adjust their driving accordingly. This observation is sup- For our questions, we identified the older driver as an ported by the data that show older commercial drivers have active commercial driver over age 60. The questions were: fewer fatigue-related crashes and those that do occur tend to be in the afternoon rather than in the early morning hours 1. Do you have older drivers currently employed? (Knipling 2009). As one interviewee put it, "Experience and judgment trump any limitations that aging may cause." 2. Do you have evidence that older drivers are over- involved in accidents or close calls? We could find no evidence of any carrier hesitating to hire or keep older drivers. For the people managing the day-by- 3. Do you have any evidence that older drivers are more day operations of the trucking industry, older drivers are not likely to be cited for driving or safety violations? perceived as providing additional risks to trucking safety.