FMCSA Toying With Idea of Allowing Teens to Drive Large Trucks

Teenagers are some of the highest-risk drivers on Florida roads. Large trucks are among the most lethal vehicles. Yet the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is floating the idea of a potential pilot program that would give 18-to-20-years-old the keys to big rigs. Fort Lauderdale truck accident attorney

As it stands, federal regulation limits allowances on interstate commercial vehicle operation to those over 21. But last month, the FMCSA announced it was seeking public comment on an initiative to address the commercial truck driver shortage by on-boarding teenage truckers.

Truck accident attorneys understand this was expand an existing pilot program that allows some 200 youths 18-to-20 to operate interstate commercial trucks – but only if they have military training. This expanded version would extend to teens without any formal military training could soon be commandeering 80,000-pound machines, for the purpose of revving up the trucking industry that is experiencing a driver shortage.

Federal regulators are asking for all public input from all stakeholders. They’re bracing for a flood, with big business trucking industry advocates on one side and independent owner-operators, safety groups, railroads and unions on the other. Some have already taken their message to the media, arguing the discussion should be about moving the minimum driving age for truckers up – not down. Even with military training, there is concern it would not be enough to combat inherent youthful immaturity, particularly among males, who are most likely to apply.

How Dangerous Are Teen DriversĀ  and Trucks in Florida?

No other group of drivers is more likely to be involved in a crash than 16-to-20-year-olds. The younger the driver, the higher the risk, with the CDC reporting those ages 16-to-19 were three times as likely to crash as a driver who was 20. The crash fatality rate was double for males.

Car accident attorneys have seen time and again that teens, compared to older drivers, are far more likely to:

  • Speed
  • Allow less headway between the car ahead
  • Underestimate dangerous situations

Nearly 47,000 Florida car accidents every year (out of an average of 390,000 total) involve a driver between the ages of 18 and 20.

Large truck crashes, meanwhile, are on the rise already – a 10 percent increase in fatal truck accidents from 2016 to 2017 and a 5 percent increase in injury-causing large truck crashes.

Florida Truck Accident Lawsuits Prove Challenging

Florida truck accident litigation can be difficult for a few reasons.

First, injuries sustained in a truck accident (almost always occupants of the smaller vehicle) are to often very serious. The sheer size differential means fatalities and catastrophic injuries are a real possibility.

Second is that the setup of the trucking industry makes it difficult to bring claims of vicarious liability for a truck driver’s negligence. That’s because vicarious liability, imposed on a negligent driver’s employer without having to separately prove any fault on the part of the employer, is only permitted where an employer-employee relationship exists. A significant percentage of truck drivers are independent contractors. That doesn’t mean carriers and owners of big rigs (sometimes separate entities) can’t be held liable, but plaintiffs will have to prove negligence against each, which also means you’re often dealing with numerous insurance companies.

Pursuing truck accident injury claims are absolutely worth it – an imperative when injuries are serious. Having an experienced Florida truck accident attorney at your side is key.

Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:

FMCSA Seeks Public Comment on Pilot Program to Allow Drivers Ages 18-20 to Operate Commercial Motor Vehicles in Interstate Commerce, May 2019, FMCSA

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