Ellen and I returned to work today having had a busy weekend. Owning a home means a lot of work and we have to use our time at the weekend for the tasks that ownership brings.
Stupidly I spent time in the sun repainting our deck; something that needed doing but which I undertook at the wrong time of day. Stupidly I started the job at about noon expecting it to take much less time than it did. By the time it was done I was well overheated and spent some time in the shower cooling off. The rest of that day was spent drinking copious amounts of water. In Australia there is a song which has a line that goes, "Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun." I guess I am guilty but at least I wore a hat.
Doing the work at that time was a bad decision and I should have known better but what makes this even dumber was the fact that Ellen had told me to wait until later. All of us make bad decisions and of late this was mine, now I wasn't only overheated I was in trouble with the Missus and we all know what that means. I hope we all make better decisions on the road.
I am somewhat older than the subjects in this research but I wonder if our Government is aware this study. Under current regulations age is a primary factor in truck driving. You can start at 18 if you are planning on trucking only within your own state but if you intend to drive cross-country across state lines you must be over 21 years of age. However there are severe age restrictions amongst insurance companies which mean that most carriers prefer hiring individuals who are over 23 years of age. These are not arbitrary numbers, they have been thoroughly considered as ages that require a little more brain development wherein the roads will be safer as a result.
I don't know about you but when I was 18 I was a little too wild to even have a car. Sure I had one but even now I question the authority that allowed it. I had actually had my driver's license for only a few weeks and was serving in the Royal Navy when the British Firemen went on strike. The Military was mobilized to fight fires in their place and guess who found himself behind the wheel of a truck built in the early 50's? Yup, yours truly. The Green Goddess Fire Trucks were no comfortable ride either; no powered steering, a crash tranny and the weight with an un-baffled water tank mounted inside gave me more than one "interesting" experience. While I didn't actually have an accident myself there were plenty that did. The bodies of these things were made of wood so you can imagine the resulting pain of such accidents.
I know absolutely that I was not ready to drive a big rig when I was 18, not even intrastate. The ATA is looking at getting the age requirements for the CDL lowered, this under the headline of "Driver Shortage". I have no problem with the ATA but I have to question their logic. Someone with two years experience behind the wheel of their car isn't qualified mentally to do the job yet. They haven't fully developed the mindset of a good driver, while they might have skills they are not skillful enough to deal with the the daily encounters we have to put up with on the big road.
We shouldn't change rules that have worked for so long because there are too few drivers. Who is going to tell the parents of a kid on a school bus that was hit by a truck driven by an 18 year old, "We were trying to make up the numbers?". Please don't give me the Military argument, Military personnel have a completely different understanding of discipline and responsibility.
Over recent years the Industry Driving Record has improved, this would change that particular statistic.
It doesn't matter really what the Government or the ATA decides, ultimately it is up the the Insurance Industry. Will Trucking Companies even be allowed by their insurers to hire anyone under the current legal age? Doubtful I think. Doubtful I hope.