The number of aging truck drivers across the country is likely to increase over the next few years as more truck drivers retire, amid a shortage of younger truck drivers to fill their vacant positions. Older drivers face numerous driving challenges, especially with flexibility and gross motor activities. A new study finds that exercise programs that specifically focus on range of motion and coordination, could help sharpen and hone driving skills.
The study was conducted on a group of senior motorists. Earlier, researchers found that these motorists faced challenges in three key driving areas. They found it difficult to look for blind spot rights behind their car by turning their upper bodies, turning their heads and necks to scan their driving environment while driving, and getting in and out of the car.
A group of seniors between the age of 60 and 74 was recruited as part of the controlled study, and they were armed with physical fitness programs that specifically focused on flexibility, range of motion, coordination and strength training. They exercised for approximately 20 minutes daily, and the exercise programs continued over 10 weeks. At the end of the fitness program, the seniors’ driving skills were gauged using a driving simulator, in lab tests as well as on special tests designed by the MIT AgeLab.
The researchers found that senior drivers reported great improvements in all these areas that they had trouble with earlier. They found it easier to turn their heads around to locate blind spots behind the vehicle, were able to easily turn their bodies to scan their driving environment, and were able to get into their cars much more quickly. Improved felicity, better range of motion and greater coordination was credited for these improvements.
The results of the study are bound to be especially interesting for trucking companies that seek ways to reduce the risk of truck accidents involving drivers in their fleet. The Transportation Research Board estimates that in 2004, the percentage of truck drivers above age 65 had increased to 3.7% of the population. The Transportation Research Board estimates that at those rates, by next year, the percentage of the truck driver population above the age of 65 will account for approximately 5.5% of the total population. That is twice as fast as the aging rate for the rest of the workforce.
Fleet owners need to be aware of this study and understand how they can invest in exercise programs to specifically increase fitness among their drivers. Every trucking company should already have a health management plan in place to reduce the risk of obesity, contributing to conditions like sleep apnea that can increase the risk of accidents. These fitness programs can simply be added to health management programs to keep all drivers safer.
The Indiana truck accident lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy LLP represent persons injured in truck accidents across Indiana.