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Is Commercial Truck Driver Training Enough?

Brandon Evans   |  October 23, 2017   |  

Truck accidents are always catastrophicBig rig operators log millions of miles on U.S. roadways each year according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Are truck driver qualifications enough?  The attorneys at Riddle and Brantley have investigated and handled many serious injury and death cases resulting from truck accidents where the truck driver was at fault.  When we are hired we begin our investigation into the accident immediately to determine what factors contributed to the wreck.  We have our own investigators who are retired law enforcement to help us thoroughly investigate the wreck for driver error and other breaches of federal truck safety guidelines.  We also have accident reconstructionists and experts in federal truck safety guidelines available to assist us as soon as we are hired.

Big rig trucks are everywhere in this day and age and semis are very complex, massive vehicles.  The drivers of these semis are required to be properly trained to operate one of these 80,000-pound trucks.  These trucks are often moving at speeds of 70 to 80 miles per hour.  The training associated with becoming a commercial truck driver is often viewed as being too limited.  A commercial truck driver may only undergo about four or five weeks of training.

There is a growing amount of research into the underlying causes of commercial truck accidents.  Some researchers think that 90 percent of serious semi-truck accidents are caused by driver error.  There could be other factors that affect an operator’s errors, but operator mistakes are nearly always the main contributing factor in commercial truck accidents.

Often times a driver receives training from a truck driving school.  These driving schools usually cover topics like legal compliance, map reading, safe operating procedures and trip planning.    However, are there shortcuts in the training process?   Are companies eager to get these drivers on the road for financial reasons?

There are questions raised about the nature and extent of operator training for commercial trucks because of truck driver negligence.  After an accident occurs that appears to be at least in some part the fault of the truck driver, an examination occurs regarding the operator’s training.  Has the driver satisfied all of the training requirements?

Truck driving schools usually follow what is known as the U.S. Department of Transportation Proposed Minimum Standards for Training Tractor Trailer Drivers.  This process requires 150 hours of basic semi-truck training, 150 hours of externship and 80 hours of advanced training.

This training is sometimes found inadequate.  Following an accident in which the operator of a semi appears to have caused the accident, a post collision investigation must include an exploration of the operator’s training, including an examination of records associated with the training process.  This investigation will also consider whether the training provided met federal guidelines.  This investigation should be initiated immediately following the commercial truck accident.  Unfortunately, in some cases, records associated with a driver’s training are doctored after the accident to provide a more favorable picture of the training that occurred.

Studies show that 11% of all fatal crashes involve big rigs.  A vast majority of the deaths are the occupants in the other vehicle that was hit by the big rig.  Furthermore, 23% of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in multiple vehicle crashes stem from tractor trailers.

Given the seriousness of big rig accidents, training of new drivers takes on increased importance.  There is a shortage of truck drivers.  The lack of sufficient training is heightened by this shortage of drivers, making putting the drivers available to work as soon as possible the option of choice by many carriers.  An ATA study estimates the truck driver shortage to be around 48,000 drivers in the United States.  This shortage may lead to cutting corners in driver training to get drivers on the road sooner.  However, there are still many companies that train their truck drivers under all the required federal training rules and demand that their drivers follow all federal guidelines while driving tractor trailers.

An experienced and skilled truck driver accident attorney will ensure that a proper investigation of the commercial truck driver’s training occurs. Riddle & Brantley has experienced truck accident attorneys who will schedule an initial consultation with you at no charge to discuss your case.