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3 CHAPTER one INTRODUCTION This report presents the results of TRB CTBSSP Proj- over age 65 by 2014. These changes may be seen against the ect MC-18 entitled Older Commercial Drivers: Do They backdrop of changes in the overall driver population, which Pose a Safety Risk? This report provides a knowledge base is expected to include 20% to 25% drivers over age 65 at the regarding age-related changes in the basic functional abili- quarter-century mark. ties needed to drive safely that can assist industry and labor practitioners in promoting safer commercial operations. It Further, the industry-wide average truck driver age con- may also inform the broader commercial vehicle safety com- tinues to increase at a greater rate than that of the overall munity and the FMCSA in developing policies and regula- workforce. Over 8 years beginning in 1994, it rose by 2.7 tions that protect public safety without penalizing drivers on years, whereas the average age of the entire labor force rose the basis of their age. only 1.7 years. This report provides: The report referenced earlier (Llaneras et al. 1995), as well as a broader body of literature addressing noncommer- · A statement of the background and the problem that cial drivers [see Staplin et al. 2003 (b)], support the premise brought about this project. of the MC-18 Request for Proposal that declines in visual, · A literature review on changes in medical (functional) mental, and physical abilities are more pronounced with fitness to drive that affect older drivers generally and aging. older commercial drivers specifically. · The results of a series of interviews with carriers and The Age Discrimination in Employment Act affects the others in the trucking industry regarding older com- results of this synthesis. This 1967 act specifically prohibits mercial drivers. age discrimination in, among other areas, hiring, promo- · Conclusions and suggestions. tions, wages, or firing/layoffs. In the team's interviews with various truck carriers, it was obvious that companies wanted to be very clear that they were not in violation of either the Background letter or spirit of this law. In 1995, the FHWA Office of Motor Carriers (now the FMCSA), released the final report of a major study on older Objectives and Scope commercial vehicle drivers (Llaneras et al. 1995). This study found that older commercial drivers who scored more The synthesis team conducted a comprehensive literature poorly on a series of cognitive, psychomotor, and perceptual review on the topic of age as it pertains to driving. The team screening tests did as well or better than their younger coun- also planned to conduct surveys of commercial truck car- terparts when tested in a driving simulator. That same study riers, motor coach companies, school bus associations and also tested various interventions to improve older driver in- companies, industry organizations (e.g., ATA), insurance cab performance. These data were intriguing but limited to companies, state departments of transportation (DOTs), and a small number of participating commercial drivers. This other relevant organizations. However, recent surveys of the synthesis report summarizes the literature on factors that trucking industry have been hampered by low response lev- predict crash risk among older drivers in general and older els. With the concurrence of both TRB and the FMCSA, the commercial drivers in particular. team opted for in-person and telephone interviews to deter- mine whether industry safety managers and state motor As stated in the original Request for Proposals for CTB- vehicle administrators perceive that a need exists for any SSP MC-18, a recent study on the truck driver shortage unique testing of older commercial drivers. showed nearly 3% of the total truck driver population in the year 2000 to be older than age 65. By 2004, according to the The literature review worked from general findings about study, that percentage had risen to 3.7%. If this trend contin- the physiological and psychological effects of aging, to the ues, more than 5.5% of the truck driver population would be specific literature pertaining to aging effects on driving,
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4 and finally to any specific literature on older commercial A principal audience for the synthesis study will be man- drivers. The review also looked for any current documenta- agers of bus and truck fleets. However, the results will be of tion of older commercial driver safety data, any policies special interest to academic and trade association research- or local regulations pertaining to older commercial driv- ers in the field of motor carrier safety, and federal and state ers, and any findings in Europe, Asia, or Australia relevant agency officials with responsibility for developing effective to this synthesis. To the extent that medical conditions and regulatory and incentive programs to enhance commercial medications are singled out for discussion in this review, it motor vehicle safety. is based on their prevalence in the overall aging population, not on the results of epidemiological research conducted strictly within the older commercial driver population.