Many of us have a false sense of security about semi-truck drivers. We think that because they have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and drive for a living, that they must be the safest drivers on the road. The data says otherwise. According to the most recent data, large truck crashes injured 182,000 people and killed 5,244 people in a single year.
It starts with poor training. It is true that motor carriers (i.e. trucking companies) and their drivers are required to follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. At the state level, drivers are also required to follow the state’s Commercial Driver’s License Manual (for example, the Ohio CDL Manual). Last, but not least, motor carriers and their drivers have to follow their own company rules. Many companies offer driver training programs that allegedly prepare their drivers to learn the ins-and-outs of the federal, state and company regulations.
All of that “training,” however, can be a smoke screen. The New York Times recently reported that these driver training programs are failing miserably. As one of the student-drivers interviewed for the article stated, “They do not teach you how to drive a truck, they just teach you how to pass the test, and that’s very dangerous.” Another said, “Honestly, we weren’t doing anything for most of the time,” and “You’re lucky if you got in the truck once a day.” It is a classic case of the blind leading the blind, as “Trainers may be barely trained themselves, often needing only six months’ experience.” Even worse, these training programs are not being selective about the drivers that they take—the NYT article quoted recruiting manuals for the driver training programs as instructing recruiters to “create urgency” by telling the applicant that the program only had “a ‘few’ spots open.” Nine in ten of these drivers quit within the first year, as the NYT reported.
What does this mean for you, the regular driver? First, it means that you should be extremely cautious around large semi-trucks on the road. Second, if you are involved in a crash, you need a law firm that knows not only how commercial truck drivers are trained, but how they are supposed to be trained. The law imposes liability on drivers not only for bad driving, but also for violating regulations about things like maintenance, pre-trip inspections, and even recordkeeping. The trucking companies can also be responsible for negligently hiring, training, or supervising their drivers.
These regulations are numerous and complicated, and very few lawyers take the time to really study them in detail. Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima is one of the few firms that does. When we aren’t actively working on a trucking case, we are studying the regulations and staying up to date on the latest news and strategies. We also have a go-to team of trucking experts readhttps://www.rittgers.com/case-results-overview/personal-injury-representative-cases/y to dispatch after a crash.
We all hope for significant improvement in truck driver training nationwide, but in the meantime you need to have experts at your side should you or a loved one be involved in a crash. Let the well-trained lawyers at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima be the attorneys that fight for you after a truck crash.