How Competent Are Big Truck Drivers?

Truck drivers are responsible for every aspect of the safe operation of their rigs while out on the road. Whether they’re hauling garbage, consumer goods, or hazardous materials, these large trucks weigh 30,000 pounds or more and are potentially deadly in the hands of someone driving irresponsibly. The size of these vehicles — especially the semi-trucks — makes them more challenging to drive. They have larger blind spots that require specialized mirrors, and even with those properly installed, drivers must be exceptionally vigilant in watching for smaller vehicles.

What Kind of Training Do Big Truck Drivers Get?

In the United States, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the standards for big truck drivers who must pass specific written and practical tests to operate these vehicles. The license is usually called a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) or a similar term, and it varies by state. Here are some of the requirements:

  • Initial training specific to the type of vehicle
  • Annual training which may include classroom sessions and time behind the wheel
  • A physical exam every two years to make sure the driver is healthy enough to manage the truck
  • A clean driving record — failure to maintain this year-to-year can result in the loss of the license

Additional requirements apply to those carrying specialized types of cargo, such as toxic chemicals, tanker trucks, or double trailers.

What Kind of Rules Must Truck Drivers Follow on the Road?

Truck drivers must follow more specific rules than those for regular passenger cars. For example, truck drivers can’t transport alcoholic beverages unless it is their cargo. Here are a few other rules that apply to those hauling goods and not passengers:

  • Drivers must keep a digital log of when they drive and when they take breaks, and they must have the records ready for inspection at all times.
  • For trucks hauling cargo and not passengers, drivers cannot be on the clock for more than 14 hours, and they can only drive 11 of those hours.
  • For every eight hours on the clock, drivers must take a 30-minute break.
  • Drivers cannot drive more than 60 to 70 hours after working 7 to 8 days in a row.

Unfortunately, not everyone follows these rules in detail. When FMCSA regulations go unheeded, accidents can happen. Drivers are responsible for what happens while on duty. If you or someone you love is injured in an accident caused by a negligent truck driver, contact a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer, like a truck accident lawyer in Woodland Hills, CA, to learn about your rights under the law.

Thanks to Barry P. Goldberg, A Professional Law Corporation for their insight into some of the rules big truck drivers must follow on the road.