An Aging Driver Force
look into the future the threat a driver shortage looms as a
"perfect storm". There are many variables that would have
an impact on the shortage. One element of the potential coming
driver shortage is an aging workforce combined with a decline in
the primary demographic group that comprises the bulk of the driver
pool. As we see freight volumes increase many fleets are
experiencing difficulty in attracting qualified drivers and may be
unable to seat trucks or add capacity at a time when freight
volumes are growing. If current demographic trends continue, that
shortage of truck drivers could increase to 111,000 by the end of
the year. As transportation managers we are seeing our driver work
force continue to age. The average age of a truck driver in the
United States is over 50 years. Since 2000, the number of truck
drivers 55 or older has surged 19%, to about 616,000, according to
the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Truck companies with baby
boomer drivers insist their safety record is at least as good as
that of younger drivers. This is absolutely a segment of our
driving force that we need and depend on. As all of us age, we do
not physically or mentally age at the same rate.
The FMCSA does
not have a maximum age limit for drivers of commercial motor
vehicles unlike that of the FAA concerning pilots. All drivers are
subject to the medical qualifications of medical certification
requirements of CFR 391.
the question remains, how do we as transportation managers know
when it is time to ask for the keys of a driver that is no longer
able to operate safely?
are a few suggestions:
Develop a proactive safety and loss control program with policies
and procedure that are not bias to age.
Require all drivers to have physical
completed by company doctor who is knowledgeable of the FMCSA
regulations regarding physical qualifications of drivers.
Develop job descriptions and job requirements for all positions
based on actual requirements of the job activity.
Implement a defensive driver training program with updated training
annually for all drivers.
Administer structured check rides at least annually to all drivers
to access the driver's skills and abilities.
Develop a continuing relationship with all drivers to keep an open
line of communication regarding the driver's ability to complete
their driving responsibilities safely.
vigilant and observant of the actions of all drivers.