With Australia facing a looming shortage of heavy vehicle drivers the question is raised as to whether it is desirable or prudent to encourage older professional heavy vehicle drivers to remain in the transport sector for longer, particularly those of heavy vehicles or recruit drivers of a younger age. Aim: To review age-related safety and identify other factors that contribute to accidents experienced by heavy vehicle drivers. Methods: A search was conducted of national and international peer-reviewed literature in the following databases: MedLine, Embase, Cinahl, PsychInfo and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety. A manual search was performed to obtain relevant articles within selected journals. Results: A limited number of studies reported age-specific accident rates for heavy vehicles for the spectrum of driver age that included drivers younger than 27 years and those over 60 years of age. Heavy vehicle drivers younger than 27 years of age demonstrated higher rates of accident/fatality involvement which decline and plateau until the age of 63 years where increased rates were again observed. Other contributing factors to heavy vehicle accidents include: long hours and subsequent sleepiness and fatigue, employer safety culture, vehicle configuration particularly multiple trailers, urbanisation and road classification. Conclusions: Drivers of heavy vehicles are over-involved until age 27 years however a characteristic ‘U’ shaped curve indicates a higher risk of accident involvement for both younger and older drivers. More detailed analyses of “at-fault” involvement and inability to avert an accident and other factors that contribute to accidents across the ages of heavy vehicle drivers may give further clarification to the degree of safety of both younger and older commercial heavy vehicle drivers.
Accident Analysis and Prevention Vol. 42, Issue 2, p. 364-371