What Makes a Truck Driver Qualified to Operate?
Tractor trailer trucks, also known as 18-wheelers or “big rigs,” are some of the most prominent and visible vehicles on the roadways. These gargantuan machines are also notoriously difficult to operate, and because there is a major truck driver shortage in progress, the trucking companies may not always ensure that their drivers are qualified.
At Koenigsberg & Associates Law Offices, we represent individuals who have become injured in serious truck accidents. If a truck driver’s negligence contributed to your losses, it may be possible to get compensation for your medical costs, time off work, disabilities, and other needs. Of course, one of the key components of a truck accident claim is establishing whether the driver was actually qualified to operate his or her vehicle.
How Can You Determine if a Truck Driver is Qualified?
Good truck drivers are difficult to find, as it takes many years to become experienced in this kind of operational procedure. In order to meet the driving laws in all 50 states, however, truck drivers must also receive ongoing proof of their qualifications.
The main qualification for becoming a truck driver is a Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL. This license allows you legal permission to operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle or CMV. Tractor trailers, big rigs, and other carriers of a certain size are considered to be CMVs by default, even if they are not being used by a corporation or small business.
In order to gain a CDL, a prospective truck driver must meet the following criteria:
- Attend truck driver school for 3-6 weeks
- Pass all relevant truck driving school certifications
- Have a clean driving record
- Pass physical exams with an authorized physician
- Have a high school diploma or GED equivalent
- Possess 20/40 vision and a 70-degree field of vision in both eyes
- Have a clear work history after a background check
- Be over the age of 21
After a driver has passed the knowledge and driving test and obtained their CDL, that still will not be enough to start driving. Most trucking companies anticipate 1-3 months of training before a new recruit can drive a rig of their own.
What Does This Mean for My Injury Case?
While trucking companies should be careful about who they hire and how they train them, the truth is that these companies are primarily out to make a profit. Most trucking companies have no more than 3-5 operators and a few trucks, all of which are leased out to the bigger corporations during the busy seasons. These larger companies may assume that they have no liability for the driver’s actions, and as a consequence, they may not provide the proper training required for new hires.
The growing need for truck drivers also has alarming implications for road safety. In 2018, the American Trucking Association reported that the truck driver deficit increased to over 60,800 – a 10,000 increase from the previous year. Left without alternatives for driving their trucks, companies have placed more and more pressure on their drivers to meet unrealistic hours. This can lead to sleep deprivation, alcoholism, and a severe drop in on-the-job training.
Committed to Helping You Recover Compensation
Truck drivers have a difficult and often thankless job, but they are still required to be vigilant on the road. When trucking companies fail to properly vet or train their employees, the results can be catastrophic for other drivers. This is just one of the reasons that trucking accidents have continued to increase, even as other accident types have decreased in recent years. In fact, in 2018, trucking fatalities reached their highest point in over 29 years.
At Koenigsberg & Associates Law Offices, our truck accident attorneys are ready to fight on your behalf. We understand the complex regulations around Commercial Motor Vehicles, and we have successfully handled hundreds of similar cases for our clients. If you need assistance with a truck injury case, don’t hesitate to contact our team.
Give us a call at (718) 690-3132 24/7 to get started.