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ATRI Developed Assessment Tool Shows Promise For Identifying Safe, Younger Drivers


The American Transportation Research Institute recently released the results of the Phase 1 Beta Test of its Younger Driver Assessment Tool. This is the second in a series of technical memoranda from ATRI exploring the potential for an assessment tool to identify the safest drivers among 18-20 year olds, a critical component of expanding interstate CDL eligibility to younger drivers. Results from ATRI’s beta test show promise for the statistically validated assessment to differentiate safer drivers from less safe drivers.


ATRI’s beta test administered a comprehensive assessment battery to current commercial truck drivers. Truck drivers who participated in the assessment represented a broad range of ages (20-60 years old), driving experience and safety performance. Among the measures tested in the assessment were personality traits, reasoning, impulsivity, sensation-seeking, sleep quality, and cognitive control. Participating drivers’ safety performance was evaluated using motor vehicle record and pre-employment screening program data on safety violations and crash involvement.


Among the statistically significant findings, the drivers in the safest group based on their MVR and PSP data had the highest scores on Conscientiousness and Agreeableness, and the lowest scores on Experience-Seeking. Additionally, drivers in the “less safe” group exhibited marginally greater sensitivity to conflict in the Multi-Source Interference Task, indicating difficulties with cognitive control. While ATRI’s beta test only included 16 drivers under the age of 30, the assessment did show sensitivity to age-related variations in performance. The age sensitivity relationship to safety also materialized in older drivers with fewer years of experience, so the assessment tool is attempting to identify younger drivers with the cognitive and mental attributes of mature, experienced drivers.


“Given all the internal and external pressures on driver recruitment and retention, it is safe to say that the driver shortage crisis is not going away,” said Joyce Brenny, Brenny Transportation, Inc. CEO and Founder. “We need to find ways to expand the pool of safe truck drivers, and ATRI’s preliminary research indicates that safe, younger drivers can be found. At Brenny, our young driver apprentice program has a proven track record. Proper training and mentoring of young individuals who want to become truck drivers does work!”


ATRI, in concert with the Minnesota Trucking Association, has been studying the issue of recruiting younger drivers since 2015, attempting to develop criteria to identify the safest group of young people who may be strong candidates to become drivers.


ATA estimates the industry’s driver shortage could expand from the current 60,000-driver deficit to 100,000 drivers by 2023 due to projected freight growth, industry retirements and competition from other industries.


According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than a quarter of the trucking industry’s workforce, 27.4%, is above the age of 55. The ATRI release noted that the trucking industry’s reliance on an aging workforce puts pressure on the industry to broaden the pool of available qualified drivers.


Based on the results of the beta test, ATRI plans to expand the pilot test through a wider sample of younger drivers as well as the range of driver safety performance.

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