Will lower truck driver age result in more injuries?

The 2021 federal infrastructure law includes a provision that lowers the minimum age for truck drivers in Ohio; plus, a possible relaxation of work rules has safety advocates worried about the effects that these changes could have on accidents involving trucks. Lowering the minimum driving age is part of an effort to ease the supply chain backlog over the past few years that has led to shortages of some goods.

Lowered driver age is part of pilot program

Reducing the minimum age for truck drivers to 18 is part of a three-year pilot program to help replace retiring truck drivers. Trucking industry officials say they are 80,000 drivers short of where they need to be to meet demand as big rig companies can’t hire drivers fast enough. Teenaged drivers can work as truckers if they complete at least 400 hours of training. Safety officials oppose the move, citing statistics indicating that teens are four times more likely to crash and cause personal injury as drivers who are 20 or older.

In addition to lowering the age for truck drivers, trucking officials also want a relaxation of rules governing truck driver shifts and rest periods. Safety groups also oppose changing the 11-hour workday limit and the rest time between hauls.

Are more catastrophic injuries ahead?

The combination of teenaged drivers and large trucks that often weigh 80,000 pounds appears to be a recipe for catastrophic injuries and related compensation lawsuits. Anyone injured in a truck accident as a result of negligence can file a lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries, medical payments and more.

In some cases, you may be able to sue the driver as well as the trucking company for injuries sustained in an incident. Lowered trucking standards and rest periods increase the chances of injury and higher compensation claims.