Would you feel comfortable driving a gargantuan truck measuring 70 feet, weighing 80,000 pounds, where you are sitting 10 feet above everyone else? Probably not, but semi-truck safety isn’t about comfort. It’s about experience and training.
Unfortunately, many trucking companies sacrifice proper training for profit. Some companies put people with just as much experience as you behind the wheel.
Learn more about truck driver negligent hiring practices below. If you were injured in an accident with a large truck, you may be able to receive compensation by proving that the trucker or employer was negligent.
Nationally-recognized firm Langdon & Emison will put its decades of experience to work for you. We’ll help you hold the trucking company accountable and get you the money you need. Call us now.
Truck Driver Negligent Hiring Practices: Deceptive Background Checks
During the hiring process, trucking companies are required to conduct thorough background checks. Among many other things, these inspections look for:
- Valid commercial driver’s license (CDL)
- A history of substance abuse
- Former serious crashes
- Disqualifying medical conditions (epilepsy, hypertension, visual impairments, etc.)
Pre-employment screenings should pull the following records from applicants without exception:
Driver Qualification (DQ) Files
Trucking companies are required under federal law to maintain DQ files for each trucker they employ.
DQ files contain a treasure trove of information, including a trucker’s prior work experience, license suspensions or traffic violations, and crashes. DQ files also contain federal Department of Transportation (DOT) medical exam certificates.
Substance Abuse Records
Trucking companies are required to conduct pre-employment drug screening tests on applicants as well as perform regular randomized drug testing.
Random alcohol tests are conducted before or after deliveries. To stay in compliance with DOT regulation, employers must report any reasonable suspicion of substance abuse to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), after which the trucker will submit a drug or alcohol test.
If the trucker is found to be in violation of DOT compliance regulations, their employer must conduct a return-to-duty drug test along with regular follow-up drug screenings.
Some medical conditions inhibit safe driving. Trucking companies must be diligent about hiring medically qualified drivers, and they must keep up to date with any changing medications or conditions that could potentially affect the driver’s performance.
Unfortunately, the industry is flush with trucking companies hiring drivers with bad records. For example, a negligent company on a tight deadline may hire drivers with histories of failed drug tests. Other times, companies are aware of disqualifying medical conditions or prior crashes and hire the trucker anyway.
The employer may try to hide these files, but an adept lawyer will obtain the records necessary to hold the employer accountable. If the files are lost or destroyed, the attorney can argue that the missing documentation constitutes a failure of due diligence during the hiring process.
Using this information, your Langdon & Emison truck accident lawyer will work to hold the employer accountable.
Truck Driver Negligent Hiring Practices: Inadequate Supervision
Compliance doesn’t end with routine screenings. Employers are also required to supervise employees in an effort to reduce the risk of truck crashes and to keep other drivers safe.
Companies hiring truck drivers with no experience – and failing to give them experience – is also considered negligence. Examples of negligent supervision include:
Failing to provide adequate training to new drivers.
Before they can take solo jobs, recently certified truckers must receive training to maintain their vehicles and recognize potential dangers or hazards.
For example, drivers need to know how to operate their vehicle in adverse weather and how to properly secure cargo before they can take on a job.
Encouraging, allowing, or pushing drivers to violate hours-of-service regulations.
The FMCSA recently updated its hours of service regulations to combat a recent uptick in trucker fatigue-related accidents. It’s dangerous and illegal for employers to allow or intimidate truckers into driving past this federally-mandated limit.
Failing to drug test drivers who caused accidents.
Federal regulation requires employers to routinely drug test drivers after truck wrecks, especially in wrecks that resulted in injuries or deaths.
Continuing to employ dangerous drivers or drivers with unqualifying medical conditions.
Companies that continue to employ drivers that they know have committed a violation (such as failing a drug test after causing a wreck) are breaking the law and are putting countless lives in danger.
The same can be said for employers who allow drivers with a disqualifying medical condition to continue working.
The Law and Trucking
Federal and state regulations require trucking companies to provide extensive training and licensing courses for drivers to prevent deadly accidents.
Some of the federal regulations that pertain to truck drivers:
- Truck drivers may only have one driver’s license by their home state and will be issued only after they pass knowledge and skill tests. Hazmat carriers must pass additional tests.
- Truckers need to undergo special training and must pass a physical exam every two years.
- No truck driver is allowed to report for duty if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.02% or more. They cannot have alcohol with them unless it’s their cargo. They cannot have alcohol or any other drug that could affect their driving ability within eight hours of their shift.
- Truckers can drive a maximum of 11 hours in a 14-hour workday. After 11 hours, they must take a minimum of 10 hours off duty. They are also required to keep a logbook of their time on and off duty.
Laws and regulations applying to trucks and cargo:
- Cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured by tools of adequate strength, dunnage, dunnage bags, shoring bars, tie-downs, or a combination of these.
- Trucks must meet performance requirements for how cargo securement systems withstand acceleration and deceleration.
- All trucks must have certain markings clearly visible, including the USDOT number and Hazmat markings.
- Truck manufacturers and suppliers must meet criteria put forth in Phase 2 of the Heavy-Duty Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Efficiency Standards.
All truckers, their employers, and their cargo are subject to these regulations. As we’re seeing more and more, though, these companies want higher profit, and they’ll put you and their own drivers in danger to get it.
Help Us Combat Truck Driver Negligent Hiring
If you were injured or a loved one killed in an accident with a semi-truck, it’s important that you get help from an attorney. Often, the problem extends beyond one simple driving mistake, and an investigation can reveal years of negligence on the part of the employer.
You can help prevent future truck crashes, serious injuries, and deaths by seeking answers. Call nationally recognized firm Langdon & Emison today for more information.