Every driver’s journey on the road intertwines with countless others. When we venture onto the busy roads of California, we trust that the drivers around us, especially those maneuvering massive commercial trucks and big rigs, have the necessary training and qualifications to ensure everyone’s safety. Tragically, this is not always the case.
Truck-related accidents in California are an ever-present concern with our busy ports and freeways. The importance of comprehensive training and stringent enforcement for truck drivers cannot be overstated – in many cases, it’s a matter of life and death.
Proper Training for Truck Accident Prevention
Driving a tractor-trailer is about more than just steering a large vehicle. The profession involves a deep understanding of vehicle mechanics, skill in handling unpredictable road conditions, and a strong awareness of safety protocols. Proper training is essential in equipping truck drivers with these necessary skills, but gaps in training can lead to severe consequences.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has studies showing that in one year, 32% of fatal truck accidents involved at least one “driver-related factor” in causing the crash. The most common driver-related factor involved speeding of any kind, followed by impairment from fatigue, alcohol, or illness. In addition, 6% of truck drivers involved in fatal accidents tested positive for drugs, with 57% not tested.
Truck drivers must be especially aware of and dedicated to following hours of service rules, which are designed to keep drivers from operating while fatigued. Truck driving companies must take care not to pressure their drivers into violating these rules.
Truck driver training should emphasize road safety education, the importance of adhering to traffic laws, and techniques for handling large vehicles under the wide range of road conditions possible throughout Southern California and the Central Valley.
What Are California’s Truck Driver Qualifications?
Under federal and California state law, truck driving qualifications include:
- Commercial Driver’s License – To get a CDL, candidates must pass both written and practical exams that test their knowledge and skills in operating large vehicles.
- Age Requirements – Drivers must be at least 18 years old to drive within California and 21 years old for interstate driving or transporting hazardous materials.
- Medical Examination – California mandates regular medical exams to make sure that truck drivers are physically capable of handling the strenuous demands of their jobs.
- Safe Driving Record – A history of safe driving is essential. A driving record with serious or repeated violations can disqualify a driver from the job.
- Drug and Alcohol Testing – Driving under the influence is a serious hazard, so drivers must pass random drug and alcohol tests while employed.
- Specialized Load Endorsements – For certain types of cargo such as hazardous materials or oversized loads, drivers may need additional endorsements on their CDL.
To ensure a high standard of safety, some trucking companies also conduct background checks that might include criminal history and previous employment history. Some employers may require ongoing training or periodic refresher courses to ensure that drivers are operating under the latest safety regulations and protocols.
Despite all of these requirements and safety practices, drivers can still slip through the cracks either because of inadequate training or failing to maintain their qualifications over time.
Determining Fault Based on Truck Driver Training
In the aftermath of a truck accident, determining fault is a complex but critical step in holding the person responsible for the crash liable, or legally accountable for the consequences.
Trucking accidents can get complicated, legally speaking, because there are often so many parties involved who could be at fault. The truck driver may have broken a traffic law. The trucking company may have failed to train their drivers or check their qualifications before putting them on the road. Even a third party, such as a mechanic or manufacturer, could be responsible for improper maintenance or selling a defective product.
Because of these complications, it’s crucial to get help from a lawyer who has experience and knowledge in handling the challenges that come along with truck accident cases. Your attorney can help you conduct a proper investigation to get to the truth of what happened. Improper driver training and a lack of driver qualifications can be uncovered by:
- Investigating Training Records – Verifying if the driver completed a certified truck driving school program and assessing the areas of training received, whether they included safe driving practices, hazardous conditions training, load balancing, emergency response, and hours of service regulations.
- Checking Licenses and Endorsements – Does the driver possess the proper class of Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and any additional necessary endorsements for the type of vehicle and cargo involved in the accident?
- Reviewing Driver History – Has the driver undergone any regular refresher courses or continuing education? Do they have a history of complying with state and federal safety regulations, or do they have a pattern of violations or accidents?
- Examining the Role of the Employer – Does the trucking company have sound hiring practices, training protocols, and background checks? Do they rigorously enforce safety regulations or do they knowingly allow drivers to operate with safety violations?
- Expert Witness Testimony – In truck accident cases, expert witnesses can play a critical role in providing insight into how much training a driver received and how much inadequate training factored into causing the accident.
Determining fault based on a truck driver’s training or qualification record is a multifaceted process that requires thorough investigation and expert analysis. If you’ve been affected by a truck accident, this could be your path to getting justice and compensation for your losses.
The statistics are clear: inadequately trained truck drivers significantly increase the risk of accidents, which are often catastrophic because of the size of their vehicles. These crashes not only cause immediate harm but also have long-lasting impacts on the lives of those involved, causing thousands of dollars in damages and in some cases, permanent injuries or death.
At Sepulveda Sanchez Law, we can help you make sense of your case and determine the best legal options available to you. Contact us now to get started with your free consultation.