Proper Truck Driver Training Reduces Accident Litigation
A single commercial truck is a far more complex piece of machinery to learn to operate than the typical passenger. And a box truck is much different from a tractor-trailer rig, which is entirely different from a cement truck, which may have little in common with a garbage truck and nothing at all in common with a passenger bus. Even within a single type of commercial vehicle, the controls and handling characteristics may vary greatly depending on who manufactured the basic chassis, who outfitted the final product, and what specific requirements the trucking carrier may have had added or changed. While a trucking school may teach a prospective driver the basics of operating one of these massive, difficult-to-control vehicles, learning to operate a specific truck or other commercial vehicle safely on the roadways is complicated and is a significant responsibility of individual truck drivers and the transportation companies who employ them. When a truck accident has resulted in serious injuries or deaths, it is the responsibility of personal injury attorneys representing the victims and their families to thoroughly consider and investigate whether the driver and their employer took this duty seriously.
Training Truck Drivers
Requirements for truck driver training are set at both the federal level and by the individual states that issue commercial truck driver licenses. The federal requirements include the regulations for entry-level truck drivers set by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and they apply to drivers:
- Seeking a commercial driver’s license for the first time.
- Seeking to upgrade from a Class B license to a Class A license.
- Seeking separate endorsements for operating passenger or school buses or for transporting hazardous materials.
These federal regulations require prospective drivers to complete training with a registered training school and to pass skills tests.
Further training requirements for issuance of a commercial driver’s license will vary from state to state — for example, the Department of Motor Vehicles in California requires that a prospective driver must complete and receive certification for a 15-hour behind-the-wheel training program that is above and beyond the federal training requirements.
Maintaining and Investigating Truck Driver Training Records
It is generally an overlapping responsibility between truck drivers and their employers to maintain and verify records for truck driver training. A driver seeking work with a new employer will typically be required to present evidence both of having a valid commercial license and of completing both basic training programs and more advanced training programs or levels of experience with specific vehicles. Beyond this, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the drivers are properly trained for the company vehicles they will operate.
Since a law enforcement report on a truck accident will not typically consider the truck driver’s experience beyond whether or not they are in possession of a valid commercial license, it is up to the personal injury attorney who may be representing an accident victim to do so. The experienced lawyer will have the skills, knowledge, and resources to seek driver training information either directly from the driver or employer during the discovery phase of litigation or from outside third parties such as training schools and prior employers. This is key to verifying the driver was properly trained, both for truck driving in general and for the specific vehicle that was operated during the course of the accident. Evidence this training was absent would be significant for establishing liability.
View this video from a local news station in Oklahoma describing the challenges commercial drivers sometimes face in complying with new federal training requirements:
California Truck Accident Litigation Attorneys
Hello, I’m is Ed Smith, a Truck Accident Lawyer in California. An experienced personal injury attorney will understand it is crucial to investigate the training, driving history, and employment history of a truck driver who may have caused a truck accident and personal injuries. If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury due to negligence of a truck driver, please contact us today at (916) 921-6400 or toll free at (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice. You can also reach us through our online contact form.
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Image by Schwoaze from Pixabay
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