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Truck driver shortage makes roads less safe

With summer well underway, many New Jersey residents will hit the roads with friends and family for vacation and fun in the sun. Yet it is important to understand the hazards of the highways, including trucks who can cause significant damage in the event of a collision.

As CBS News reports, with a driver shortage, more commercial truck drivers are older than 65, and some companies are actively recruiting those who cannot afford to retire. An analysis of crash data showed that since 2013 there has been a 19 percent increase in collisions involving truck drivers who are 70 or older, including some drivers in their 90s. While there are anti-ageism laws protecting people from age discrimination, both federally and in many states, there are exceptions in the transportation industry. For example, commercials pilots must retire at the age of 65, despite a shortage of pilots. Drivers must pass a physical, but some worry that these screenings do not measure the stamina a commercial truck driver needs to complete a long trip in a heavy vehicle.

Others worry that there are health issues being overlooked that put other drivers at risk. As the Huffington Post reports, falling asleep at the wheel is a big concern for drivers, which is why there are limits to how many hours a driver can complete in a day. Some believe that undiagnosed sleep apnea in truck drivers is a big part of the problem. In fact, it is a concern for pilots and engineers on trains, as well, and undiagnosed sleep apnea led a driver of a commuter train to fall asleep at the wheel and led to a train derailment. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has recommended that drivers be screened and treated for sleep apnea, but their regulations are weak and not enforced.

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