There are many reasons why people become truck drivers – and they are doing so in increasing frequency due to the escalating demand for transportation providers due to supply chain issues across the country. While many truckers are experienced, trained, and excellent at what they do, others are not. It is the responsibility of those who hire them to vet drivers to ensure they are safe enough to be paid to handle huge commercial vehicles capable of immense destruction on our roads and highways. As has been proven time and again, trucking companies hiring disqualified drivers leads to more accidents – and here are a few reasons why.
What Makes Some Truck Drivers Dangerous?
Truck Driver Health Concerns
Each truck driver must pass a Department of Transportation physical examination before being hired and must pass a new physical every two years. Truckers in bad health can suffer from a variety of conditions that make them unfit to drive big rigs, including sleep apnea which can make them fall asleep behind the wheel. There are also legally disqualifying medical conditions that need to be screened for, including but not limited to epilepsy, hypertension, visual impairments, and more. Some trucking companies in desperate need of drivers may hire truckers they know have disqualifying medical conditions anyway.
Truck Driver Driving Records
Truck drivers must possess an active Class C license. Without one, they are legally unqualified to drive a large commercial vehicle and they likely do not know how to safely drive a truck. If a driver has a history of serious prior crashes, this should be considered and this driver should likely not be hired.
Truck Driver Criminal Records
Commercial truck drivers addicted to alcohol or prescription drugs will have their driving ability inhibited. They are more likely to break traffic laws and drive recklessly, react more slowly to road hazards, and speed. A history of substance abuse is a dangerous indicator of future problematic driving. Trucking companies are required by law to conduct pre-employment drug testing as well as random drug testing. A negligent trucking company on a deadline with driver shortages – as is more common today than ever before – may hire drivers with a history of failing their drug tests.
Adhering to government trucking safety regulations doesn’t end with pre-hire screening. Employers must also train and supervise their workers to reduce the risk of truck accidents and to keep others on the roads safe. Companies hiring truck drivers with no experience and failing to provide them with experience and training is also negligent. For example, newly certified or newly recertified truckers need training in order to properly recognize potential hazards within their own vehicles.
Types of Truck Driver Disqualifications
Federal law imposes strict requirements for commercial truck drivers to help ensure that only qualified truckers are maneuvering 18-wheelers on American roads. If a trucking company does not follow these guidelines – or screening requirements – they are guilty of negligent hiring and risk the safety of millions driving, riding, cycling, or walking on or near our nation’s transportation infrastructure.
Legally, there are five types of disqualifications: 60 days, 120 days, one year, three years, and a lifetime. Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines, the following are just some of the acts of negligence and/or illegality that subject truck drivers to disqualification:
A lifetime disqualification
- The use of a CMV or non-CMV in the commission of any felony involving manufacturing, distributing or dispensing a controlled substance, or possession with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance
- A driver commits two major violations (e.g., refusal to take a blood alcohol test, causing a fatality in the truck, causing a hit and run, and more)
A minimum disqualification of one year
- Driving under the influence of alcohol as defined by applicable state law
- Driving under the influence of a controlled substance
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Using the truck to commit a felony
- Causing a fatality through the negligent operation of their commercial truck
A minimum disqualification of 60 days
- Driving at a speed of 15 miles per hour over the speed limit
- Making erratic/improper lane changes
- Driving recklessly
- Following the vehicle in front of them too closely (tailgating)
- Driving a truck without having a CLP/CDL or without it in their possession
For a full list of reasons truck drivers can be disqualified, the Code of Federal Regulations §383.51 has a comprehensive list.
Houston Truck Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you may be able to obtain significant financial compensation for your damages. The experienced bilingual Houston personal injury lawyers of Adame Garza LLP have helped individuals and families hurt in collisions with large trucks for over 20 years, and we can carefully analyze your situation to determine how we can help you. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation to learn more.