Unqualified Truck Drivers
The commercial trucking industry is strictly regulated by both federal and state law. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits drivers from working more than a certain amount of hours without a break and require trucking companies to conduct regular maintenance on their vehicles. While these are some of the most well-known trucking-related federal regulations, it is important to note that federal law has also created a number of restrictions regarding who can work as a commercial truck driver. When trucking companies fail to comply with these rules, unqualified drivers could end up driving trucks weighing as much as 80,000 pounds or carrying hazardous cargo, putting anyone else on the road at risk.
These companies can and should be held accountable for hiring unqualified drivers who then cause accidents, so if you were involved in a collision with a truck, it is important to consult with an experienced truck accident attorney who can conduct a thorough investigation into your accident and attempt to hold the at-fault parties responsible.
Commercial Truck Driver Qualifications
Under federal law, only individuals with certain qualifications are eligible to become commercial truck drivers. For instance, all applicants must undergo and pass a physical exam before they can be hired and must also comply with the following requirements:
- Be at least 21 years old;
- Provide proof that they possess the appropriate commercial driver’s license, usually a Class C license, which can only be issued by a single state;
- Pass a series of drug and alcohol tests;
- Provide evidence of past employment and driving records;
- Be able to speak English sufficiently to converse with the public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals, to make entries on reports and records, and to respond to official inquiries;
- Be able, by reason of training or experience, to safely operate a commercial vehicle;
- Provide their employer with a list of all traffic law violations of which they have been convicted in the past 12 months; and
- Successfully complete a driver’s road test.
Finally, potential employees must provide evidence that they are not disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle, which could occur if their driver’s license has been suspended, withdrawn, or revoked, whether temporarily or permanently, or if they are convicted of one of the following crimes while on duty:
- Driving a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .04 percent or more;
- Refusing to submit to a drug or alcohol test;
- Driving while under the influence of Schedule I drugs, such as amphetamines and narcotics;
- Transporting, possessing, or using a Schedule I drug;
- Leaving the scene of an accident while operating a commercial vehicle; and
- Committing a felony that involved the use of a commercial truck.
Commercial truck drivers can also be disqualified from driving for a period of time if they are found to have been texting or using a handheld mobile telephone while driving.
Although trucking companies are required to comply with these rules during the hiring process, many fail to do so, which can have devastating consequences for others on the road. Fortunately, those who are injured in collisions with truck drivers can request certain documents, such as physical exam cards and hiring records from the trucking company that can help establish whether the driver was qualified. In the event that a driver should never have been hired, the injured party could collect compensation from the at-fault employer for its failure to comply with federal law.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Today
If you have been injured in a wreck in Fort Lauderdale, it is imperative that you reach out to a skilled attorney for help. Please call Boone & Davis at 954-566-9919 to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced truck accident lawyer.