Like most popular media reports, the CBS News story on trucking, “Big Rigs, Big Problems,” opens with the sad remembrance of a crash victim and then proceeds to build the case that the industry, desperate for drivers, is recruiting the elderly to fill seats—and the crash rate for truckers 70+ years of age is on the rise.
The problem, the report explains, is that there are no government regulations that prohibit qualified seniors from getting behind the wheel of big rigs. Something must be done! Except, of course, that would run up against age discrimination protections—and common sense. So, of course, an FMCSA representative said the agency is looking into it.
Otherwise, the intended shocker of the “five-month investigation” comes when a 70-year-old former state trooper takes a hidden camera into a CDL school recruiter’s office and gets her to mention signing up “two ladies, probably in their 80s.” Wow, really? She could've just said, "Sure, even a fat old man like you could probably drive a truck—will that be cash or credit?"
Yes, alertness and reaction time can diminish with age. But give me a 70-something with 3 or 4 million miles behind him over a hot-shot 20-something who’s so good he can keep his social media accounts current while cruising I-95. (And I’ll be looking into the age-group reports myself to see what I can come up to support my pre-conceptions.)