A study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence indicates that driver experience overshadows age when it comes to crash risk.
The data was collected and compiled in a study called “Commercial Driver Safety Risk Factors” sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and is currently under review.
The purpose of the study was to look at how safety performance changes in drivers ranging from 21-65 years old with experience anywhere from 6 months or less up to 30 years.
The study surveyed 9,000 CMV drivers to determine the impact of age and CMV driving experience on crash rates, crash involvement, and moving violations.
It showed that, for all crash types combined, CMV drivers with less experience driving a CMV (less than 1 year) had higher proportions of crash involvement than drivers with longer CMV driving experience, regardless of age.
While the study showed that, while age is an important factor, experience has a greater impact on crash rates, crash involvement and moving violations.
The study also highlighted how the industry was aging, creating a problematic gap in the workforce.
The average age of for-hire over-the-road truckload drivers is 46 years and the industry-wide average age for a truck driver is increasing at a greater rate than that of the overall workforce, meaning that many drivers are fast approaching retirement age.
This raises questions on how the industry can continue to have enough experienced drivers while maintaining safety expectations.
The study suggests that motor carriers may want to focus on training methods that engage older, experienced drivers in mentoring programs to share their knowledge with inexperienced drivers as they learn to navigate the road. It also lists the benefits of technology-based safety features like dash cameras. Continuously recorded video footage from the road can be reviewed and used for training purposes, giving drivers more knowledge and experience.