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Older Truck Drivers - Advice & Tips

Last Updated: Dec 14, 2015

What New Drivers Need To Know About Becoming A Truck Driver At An Older Age:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of the American truck driver, as of 2014, is around 50 years old. It is not uncommon for drivers well into their 50's to start trucking careers.

Older drivers who are able to pass the physical and CDL exams, have a reasonably clean MVR , work, and legal history, and otherwise meet FMCSA and DOT qualifications, face no additional barriers to getting truck driving jobs.

Depending on the company and nature of the duties involved, drivers will usually have to pass some form of physical fitness test, regardless of age.

Anecdotal (word-of-mouth testimony) and empirical (experience from the TruckingTruth experts) evidence strongly suggests that many trucking companies are actually more willing to hire, and actively seek, older drivers, due to their expected additional life experience, work ethic, and wisdom/maturity. In fact, many companies establish a MINIMUM hiring age for new drivers.

There is no such thing as "too old to become a truck driver". While the FMCSA establishes 21 years old as the minimum for interstate drivers, there is no maximum age.

Becoming A Truck Driver At An Older Age:

Many drivers enter trucking as a second career, or as life changes, children leave the house, etc. Many older drivers actually fare better in long-haul driving positions without the added burden of a growing family at home, as many of the younger drivers deal with.Many older people also make plans to travel the country after retiring from their careers. Trucking gives them a perfect opportunity to do so, while getting paid to do it.

According to recent demographics reports, the average age of a truck or bus driver in the U.S. is between 46 and 55 years old.

See Also: Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, Employed persons by detailed occupation and age.

The same safety and physical regulations apply to older drivers as to younger ones.

Physical Conditioning & Health For Older Drivers:

Most companies will require a physical fitness test of some sort, as a condition of hire, to verify that the driver will be physically able to perform the required tasks. Flatbed drivers are typically required to be able to lift tarps, climb, etc. as part of the general securement process, and will be tested by individual companies on their physical ability to do the job.

All drivers normal physical responsibilities include climbing up into and down from the cab multiple times per day, raising and lowering the trailer landing gear, and bending over/crouching to inspect the truck and trailer components and adjust the tandems.

Increased age in some people brings with it the onset of medical conditions that may require medication to treat. Along with illegal or habit-forming drugs, anti-seizure medication or methadone use is disqualifying.

Any medications that drivers are taking will have to be disclosed and verified by the prescribing doctor that the driver is safe to drive CMV's while taking it.

See Also: DOT Physical Exam Procedures & Details

See Also: DOT Drug and Alcohol Policies & Testing

Helpful Resources For Older Truck Drivers:

Yet Another New Guy In Trucking

Forum Threads: Tips And Advice For Older Truck Drivers

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

MVR:

Motor Vehicle Record

An MVR is a report of your driving history, as reported from your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Information on this report may include Drivers License information, point history, violations, convictions, and license status on your driving record.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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