Big Rig Accidents and Truck Driver Training: Is Commercial Truck Training Enough?
Written by greg on August 19, 2017
Millions of miles are logged on U.S. roadways each year by big rig operators, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Indeed, Texas is one of the top three states when it comes to the number of semi-truck miles logged on roadways annually.
In addition to the ubiquitous nature of commercial trucks in this day and age, semis are massive, complex vehicles. Training is required to properly operate an 80,000-pound motor vehicle, which often is moving at speeds of 70 to 80 miles per hour. The reality is that training associated with becoming a commercial truck driver is viewed by some as being too limited. On average, a commercial truck driver undergoes only about four to five weeks of training.
Driver Error a Major Factor in Truck Accidents
There has been a growing amount of research into the underlying causes of commercial truck accidents. According to some researchers, the cause of upwards to 90 percent of serious semi accidents is some driver error or mistake. There may be other factors that compound an operator’s error. However, driver mistake is nearly always a prime contributing factor when it comes to a commercial truck accident.
More often than not, a driver receives training from a truck driving school. Most truck driving schools cover topics that include legal compliance, safe operating procedures, map reading, and trip planning. There regularly are concerns expressed that shortcuts exist when it comes to the training process. In other words, prospective drivers and truck companies are eager to get operators onto roadways for financial reasons.
The nature and extent of training for a commercial truck driver raise a couple of key questions when an accident occurs because of truck driver negligence. First, in the aftermath of an accident that appears to be at least in part the fault of a driver, an examination must occur regarding his or her training. The investigation must focus on whether or not a driver satisfied all of the training requirements.
Second, following a commercial truck accident, a valid question is whether the training required of a particular driver is sufficient. A truck driving school usually follows what is known as the U.S. Department of Transportation Proposed Minimum Standards for Training Tractor Trailer Drivers. This scheme requires 150 hours of basic semi-truck training. It also requires a 150-hour externship and 80 hours of advanced training.
Training Often Found Inadequate
Following a truck accident in which the rig operator appears to have caused the accident, a post-collision investigation must include an exploration of his or her training. This includes an examination of records associated with the training process. The investigation must also include a consideration of whether the training provided comports with the federal scheme.
This investigation needs to initiate immediately following a commercial truck accident. Unfortunately, in a surprising number of cases each year, records associated with a driver’s training are doctored in the aftermath of an accident to provide a more favorable picture of actual training that occurred.
Truck Crashes are Often Fatal
A recent study determined that 11% of all fatal crashes involve big rigs. And predictably the vast majority of deaths are the occupants of a passenger vehicle. A whopping 23 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in multiple vehicle crashes stemmed from a tractor- trailer.
Shortage of Drivers
Given the seriousness of accidents with big rigs, training of new drivers takes on an increased importance. The lack of sufficient training is heightened by the shortage of truck drivers, making putting the drivers available to work as soon as possible the option of choice by most Motor Carriers.
A recent ATA study estimated a truck driver shortage of 48000 drivers in the US. The shortage leads to cutting corners in training to get the driver on the road. Trucking companies have even taken to advertising for drivers on the radio and television.
Speak with a Trucking Accident Lawyer
A skilled, experienced truck accident attorney can best ensure that a proper investigation of a commercial truck driver’s training occurs. A trucking accident lawyer will schedule an initial consultation with you at no charge to discuss your case.
Call 281-587-1111 24/7