Younger truckers are increasingly common on U.S. roads as the trucking industry grapples with shortage of qualified truck drivers. Though all truck drivers need specialized training and a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate a tractor-trailer, there is no substitute for experience. Overall, younger drivers are at a greater risk of being involved in motor vehicle accidents.
Why Are Younger Truck Drivers on the Roads?
The trucking industry has a longstanding problem with driver shortages, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, industry leaders and regulators have had to look for new solutions to keep up with growing demand.
One recent solution from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was to lower the eligibility age for interstate trucking from 21 to 18. Most states limit 18-to-20-year-old CDL holders to driving within state lines. The FMCSA change significantly increases the pool of potential truck drivers, making it easier for trucking companies to fill their positions.
Age Requirements for U.S. Truck Drivers
Before the most recent changes, only commercial drivers 21 and older were legally allowed to drive trucks across state lines. However, some states had already implemented rules allowing 18-year-olds to drive big rigs out of state.
In November 2020, the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act was signed into law, which included the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program. This program grants interstate driving permissions to 18-year-old truck drivers after they drive for 400 supervised hours with an experienced truck driver who:
- Is at least 26 years old,
- Has at least five years of experience driving semi-trucks
- Has driven for two years without a ticket or an accident
Do Young Truck Drivers Have a Higher Risk of Crashes?
Younger drivers are likelier to make mistakes behind the wheel than older ones. Research shows that drivers under 20 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash. Yet other studies show age is not as important as experience, meaning that a younger driver with more hours behind the wheel of a big rig could be safer than an older driver that is new to the trucking profession.
What to Do If You Were Hurt in a Truck Accident Caused by a Young Driver
Recovering damages after a truck accident can be complex and confusing, so taking the right steps to protect your injury claim is essential. After a truck accident in California, you should:
- Seek medical attention. Even if you do not think you sustained severe injuries, getting a medical evaluation for your health and creating a medical record of your injuries is crucial.
- Document the accident. Take photos of the crash scene, including the vehicles involved and any visible injuries. Get contact information from witnesses and write down crash details while your memory is fresh.
- Watch what you say to others. Avoid apologizing or admitting fault to the other driver, and limit what you say to the insurance company. Anything you say could damage your case and cost you money.
- Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer. A truck accident attorney can guide you through the legal system, protect your rights, and demand compensation on your behalf.
Get Help From Our Truck Accident Lawyers in California
If you suffered injuries in a Pasadena truck accident involving a young truck driver, the Law Offices of Pius Joseph can help. Our California truck accident lawyer has over 30 years of experience helping victims seek the compensation they deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.