Across the country, there is a shortage of qualified truck drivers who can manage tractor-trailers and haul goods over long distances. This means that trucking companies are eager to get new hires out on the road as soon as possible. Sometimes, these drivers do not have the necessary skills and training to maneuver these large commercial vehicles. In most states, tractor-trailers may be up to 59 feet in length, requiring expertise to operate them successfully.
In evaluating whether a driver has the skills and experience necessary to drive a commercial truck, a trucking company should consider:
- The physical condition of the driver – this is one of those jobs where a person needs to be able to secure loads, climb the trailer to replace reflectors, crawl under the truck to inspect potential problems, and manage many other physical tasks;
- The driver must have obtained the proper license – an individual needs a commercial driver’s license to driver a large truck;
- The driver must have acquired the right certifications – depending on the type of truck and the goods being hauled, the driver must have the applicable specialized training. The driver also must have the skill to recognize problems that need to be addressed immediately, such as failing brakes or a poorly secured load; and
- The background check of the driver must be clean – there are a number of red flags that appear in thorough checks, including a history of alcohol or drug abuse or citations for aggressive driving.
The person seeking to drive a tractor-trailer should disclose whether he has any medical conditions that might impact his ability to operate a truck in a safe manner. This might include a seizure disorder, severe diabetes that could lead to a loss of consciousness, or a blood disorder that might result in a stroke.
There are many signs that a driver did not have the experience or skills to properly operate a truck. After an accident has occurred, a knowledgeable attorney will review the following:
- The certifications and licenses that a driver possesses;
- The assessments of a driver’s skills that should be present in his employment file;
- Evidence of the completion of necessary skills training;
- Driving citations; and
- Warnings about improper conduct while loading, unloading, or driving the truck.
In addition to the paperwork that may reveal a driver who did not have the skills or temperament to drive a commercial truck, the actions of the driver also may provide support for a claim of negligence. These telling behaviors include:
- The driver failed to secure the load, which led to loss of control of the truck;
- The driver did not respond to traffic conditions in time to bring the tractor-trailer to a safe stop;
- The driver failed to hold his lane of travel, moving back and forth across multiple lanes;
- The driver was speeding;
- The driver did not pay attention to height restrictions, which led to a serious accident after impacting an overpass;
- The driver failed to correct serious problems with the truck, or get the appropriate assistance in remedying these defects;
- The driver did not execute a turn properly;
- The driver failed to navigate a curve in the road; and
- Any other actions that indicate a lack of care or knowledge about the operation of a commercial motor vehicle.
It is important to review every aspect of the driver’s and trucking company’s records in order to determine whether it was negligent of the trucking company to have the driver on the road.
An accident involving a tractor-trailer impacts many lives. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a serious truck collision Parker Waichman LLP are ready to fight for the justice that you deserve. Call us at 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) to receive your free case evaluation where we can determine the plan that meets the needs of you and your family.
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