According to data reported by the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of fatality for teens in America. Their relative inexperience behind the wheel and impulsive behavior of this age group can lead to a much higher risk of personal injury for them and other drivers on the road. Truck driving is one of the most dangerous jobs out there, but it’s also dangerous for other drivers on the road, especially if the driver is inexperienced. Does this mean that newbies are dangerous truck drivers?
This question is especially relevant today when, under a new plan from the Biden administration, teens as young as 18 will be eligible to apply for long-haul trucking positions. Read on for information on what this may mean for the safety of drivers across America, and how the risk of personal injury can be mitigated.
What Risks Do New Truck Drivers Present?
As with any profession, new workers are likely to make more errors and require more substantial guidance and supervision as they progress in their careers. For truck drivers, this is no different. However, the risks of injury involved in making a mistake behind the wheel of a semi-truck necessitate increased attention and support to newly-hired drivers or drivers who have just finished their training to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
A 2020 study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) looked at data from over 21,000 drivers to determine how a truck driver’s age and years of experience were correlated with their safety performance while driving these large commercial vehicles. The study found that driving experience, rather than age, had a greater impact on driving risk. As such, the study found no safety-based reason not to use younger drivers, provided that structured training, mentoring, and coaching systems were in place to support these less experienced drivers.
The Implications of President Biden’s Infrastructure Law
In 2021, President Biden signed an infrastructure bill into law that would effectively lower the age requirement for individuals to apply to drive long-haul trucks across the United States. By lowering the
age restriction from 21 years old to 18 years old, the government intended to recruit more drivers to fill necessary driver positions to maintain the supply chain system across the country. Some can’t help but wonder if this decision is a risky one, given the high rates of death by motor vehicle crashes for teens. Is the driving behavior of teenagers all the more da
ngerous when they’re in a truck? Will this decision have serious ramifications with regard to the injury risk of truck drivers
and others on the roads?
When considering the results of the study discussed in the previous section, it appears that a major focal point of the Biden administration’s new plan should include how these teenage truck drivers will be trained and supported as they begin their careers driving loads of cargo across vast distances. While this support is undoubtedly invaluable, it’s important to refer back to the study which states that driving experience is a key factor that impacts the risk of crashing. And while experience is a greater factor than age, we can’t ignore that most 18-year-olds have three years less exp
erience than 21 -year-olds. How much will these younger and less experienced drivers impact road safety? It’s too early to say, but what’s clear is that the trucking industry must exercise caution when hiring younger drivers.
Causes of Newbie Truck Driver Accidents
You now know that newbie drivers are statistically the most dangerous out there, but let’s explore how these crashes often happen. What are the most common causes of large truck accidents?
- Blind spots contribute to accidents between semi-trucks and passenger vehicles in many ways. One common cause of accidents occurs when vehicles are following each other too closely, whether in front or behind a semi-truck. A big rig needs a much longer stretch of road in which to slow down, meaning a passenger vehicle that stops abruptly in front of a semi-truck may not be able to avoid being hit from the rear. In addition, cars that follow too closely behind a semi may not be ready to brake at the same frequency that truck drivers do, leading to a collision.
- Fatigue is another common cause of accidents. Tiredness can lead truck drivers to make careless mistakes including not completely assessing their blind spots for signs of danger. Truck drivers are expected to sit for prolonged periods, often at hours of the day that do not align with their normal sleep schedules. This can cause impaired judgment, leading to accidents on the road.
- Suddenly changing lanes is also a commonly reported cause of accidents between semi-truck drivers and passenger vehicles. When either party commits a sudden lane change, it can cause a change reaction of reflexive maneuvers that can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicle. Truck drivers should take prolonged precautions to ensure there is not a vehicle in their blind spot before executing a lane change.
- It’s not just passenger vehicle drivers who are guilty of distracted driving. Distracted driving can cause accidents between semi-trucks and passenger vehicles. When a truck driver is distracted by their cell phone or something else, it can lead to absent-minded decision-making and not paying close enough attention to blind spots.
Commonly Awarded Compensation in Cases Involving Semi-Trucks
If you are the victim of a semi-truck accident, it’s likely that you suffered serious injuries and are seeking information about how to get financial compensation. The types of damages available to victims of accidents involving semi-trucks include:
- Medical expenses: You may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, including hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, and medication.
- Lost wages: If you are unable to work because of your injuries, you may be able to recover compensation for your lost wages.
- Pain and suffering: You may be able to recover compensation for the physical pain and emotional suffering that you have endured as a result of the accident.
- Property damage: If your vehicle was damaged in the accident, you may be able to recover compensation for the repairs.
While all of these types of damages are possible for truck accident victims to receive, every case is different and there’s no one size fits all for truck accident damages. The compensation that you may be eligible to receive will depend on the severity of your injuries, the extent of your damages, etc. An experienced car accident attorney can help you understand the types of compensation that may be available to you and fight for the full amount of damages that you deserve.
Getting Professional Legal Counsel in Oak Brook
When planning to pursue litigation after an accident in which a trucker’s negligent driving caused personal injury to other drivers, it is often necessary to employ the services of an experienced local personal injury attorney. These legal professionals can help accident victims to better understand how negligence laws operate concerning their case, and they can help plaintiffs build a strong portfolio of evidence that proves the trucking company’s negligence.
For years, the truck accident lawyers at the law firm of Palermo Law Group have been working with accident victims in Oak Brook and throughout the Chicagoland area as they fight for fair compensation for their injuries. Contact Palermo Law Group today for a free consultation.