Investigating Attributes of Young, Inexperienced Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers

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Date

2024-04-19

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National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence

Abstract

For years, the trucking industry has been concerned with a potential lack of qualified, safe drivers to meet the future demand of the supply chain. The current minimum age at which a driver with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) can operate interstate is 21 years old (49 CFR 391.11). However, recent developments have expanded driver licensing age requirements through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s young driver apprenticeship programs and initiatives for young military veterans. The current study used the Commercial Driver Safety Risk Factors (CDSRF) study data to investigate the attributes of safe and unsafe young, inexperienced drivers (ages 21 to 25). The study compared young commercial drivers with and without carrier-recorded crashes, carrier-recorded preventable crashes, nationally recorded crashes, and moving violations for differences in demographic characteristics, driving-related factors, and health-related variables such as medical conditions and treatment status. Overall, most young drivers in the current study did not have a safety-related event. The proportion of drivers with a safety-related event included 14% with at least one carrier-recorded crash, 8% with at least one carrier-recorded preventable crash, 8% with at least one nationally recorded crash, and 10% with at least one moving violation. The study found young drivers who reported an out-of-service (OOS) placement in the past 3 years were at 3 times increased risk of nationally recorded crash involvement. Young drivers with a double/triple trailer endorsement had higher odds of both carrier-recorded and nationally recorded crash involvement compared to drivers without this endorsement. Approximately 80% of the sampled young drivers in the current study had a high school (HS) diploma or higher degree—a higher proportion than observed in an analysis of drivers of all ages in the CDSRF. Drivers showed lower odds of carrier-recorded crash involvement when their academic degree was another degree not listed compared to drivers with a HS diploma or bachelor’s degree. Finally, drivers with diagnosed and treated allergies showed higher risk of crash involvement compared to drivers without this diagnosis; however, it is important to note that very few drivers in the sample had allergies and were receiving treatment. Although the study found few statistically significant factors associated with increased safety event risk, the study did provide more insight into the typical young driver. As younger drivers have more opportunities to join the career field, it is important to better understand this driver age group, their potential risk factors, what factors need further research, and how this driver age group compares to other driver age groups in their demographics and risk.

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Keywords

commercial motor vehicle drivers, CMVs, transportation safety, trucking, driver licensing

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