Trucking companies have a lot of responsibility when it comes to hiring and screening their tractor-trailer truck drivers. Truck accidents cause over 5,000 deaths each year and 150,000 serious injuries.

Federal Guidelines

A truck driver must have a Commercial Driver’s license (CDL) in order to operate a commercial truck. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates this rule along with a few others when it comes to the trucking industry. In order for a person to get a CDL, they must have a good driving record. A good driving record is defined by the FMCSA as:

  • During the prior two years, the person has not had his license suspended or revoked
  • The person has not been convicted of a driving offense
  • The person has not had any other serious traffic offenses

What these rules do is prevent someone that has not proven that they can drive a passenger car safely from getting a license to drive an 80,000 pound vehicle. A truck driver’s file is supposed to be kept up to date with their current driving record information. This is the information a trucking company should use when evaluating a prospective employee on whether or not they are fit for the job.

Negligence of Trucking Companies

A trucking company may be liable for negligent hiring if they do not thoroughly examine a potential driver’s record. If a company does not conduct an adequate investigation of a potential employee’s driving record and hires a rider who is in an accident, then the trucking company may be liable for negligent hiring. Some companies are overlooking these screening practices and sending bad drivers out on the road to drive these 80,000 pound weapons.

Another form of company negligence that occurs is failure to properly train truck drivers. It’s not enough for a truck driver to just get his commercial driver’s license and hit the road. The company that hires him must be responsible for knowing if the driver needs more training before they get on the road. These trucks require drivers that know how to handle them in bad situations, know how to properly maintain them, and know how to safely drive these big double rigs. If these trucks are being driven by inexperienced drivers, then everyone else who is on the road is in jeopardy.

Some trucking companies will not spend the money required nor take the time required to properly train new drivers. If you are in an accident with a truck driver and sustain serious injuries, an experienced truck accident attorney may be able to expose inadequate training and hold the trucking company accountable for this in addition to other negligence that caused the action.

Knowing how to drive is not the only experience a truck driver needs, he must also be skilled in loading and unloading the truck and securing the load as well. An unsecured load can shift and cause a truck to roll over or get hard to handle, which can cause an accident. Driving skills like taking evasive action and recognizing roadway hazards are also essential in handling a vehicle this large.

Trucking companies are very adept at protecting themselves in the event that they are accused of negligence. Most of them have teams of attorneys and investigators that are good at what they do, protecting the trucking company from having to pay in a lawsuit. They may also have “independent truck drivers” and multiple corporations that are formed in an effort to shield them from liability. It is important to preserve important evidence including the “black box.” It is critical that the victim in an accident involving a tractor-trailer has an experienced trucking accident attorney on their side.