Improperly Trained Drivers
We all know a person can’t climb into a big rig one day and decide to be a truck driver. These massive vehicles often rely on complex manual transmissions and braking systems that the average driver has no experience with. Even more technologically advanced rigs with automatic transmissions take specific knowledge and training.
That’s why, when we see a trucker in town or on the highway, we assume he or she has extensive knowledge and training regarding the vehicle. However, trucking accidents can occur because the driver doesn’t have the knowledge, training, or experience necessary to operate that truck. In this scenario, not only may the driver be negligent, but also the trucking company for hiring, retaining, and sending an improperly trained driver onto the road.
If you were hurt in a trucking accident because the driver didn’t have the proper training, calling an experienced Chicago trucking accident lawyer may be your best course of action. Someone who is familiar with the law surrounding truck-related collisions and who has litigated these types of cases before will know how to determine the qualifications of the driver at the time of the accident and show in court that the driver was lacking.
All Truck Drivers Must Have a CDL
To be a truck driver, you must have a commercial driver’s license, which can be obtained through trucking schools, CDL-specific training, or without formal training in some instances. Potential truckers must take a driving test and written exam, each with multiple components, to get their CDL.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a driver must first obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). This allows a person to drive a truck on public roads with a CDL holder present. To be eligible for a CLP, you must pass a written portion of the CDL test as well as have a clean driving record for a considerable length of time. The past decade of your driving will be checked. Your state may also require proof of residency and a physical to show you’re medically able to drive.
Before you can get your CDL, you must have your CLP for 14 days, and some states require you to complete specific CDL training. Once these conditions are complete, you can take the skills portion of the CDL test, which has three parts. They’ll be tested on vehicle inspection, basic controls, and the road.
Most individuals choose to obtain their CDL in their home state, and it’s illegal to have a license from more than one state.
All CDLs Are Not Created Equal
Not all trucks are the same and neither are the qualifications to drive them. There are generally three classes of CDLs drivers can obtain, known as A, B, and C.
According to the FMCSA, a Class A license holder can drive a vehicle with a gross combination weight greater than 26,001 lbs., including a trailer that weighs more than 10,000 lbs. A driver with a Class B CDL can drive a single vehicle with a gross weight of 10,000 lbs or less. Class C licenses cover vehicles that do not fit within Class A or B, and generally cover vehicles designed to carry 16 or more passengers or certain hazardous materials.
Was an Endorsement Required?
To qualify to operate certain types of vehicles, drivers need to receive an endorsement that states they’re specifically qualified. Some endorsements are for: double/triple trailers, passengers, a tank vehicle, hazardous materials, and a school bus. All of these require a driver to take a knowledge test and some also require an additional skills test.
Was the Driver Restricted in Any Way?
While truckers can receive endorsements regarding types of trucks they know how to drive, they can also receive restrictions on their CDLs regarding systems they can’t legally operate. Examples of some restrictions that can occur are failing to pass the air brakes knowledge test, not taking the driving test in a manual vehicle, and taking the test with hydraulic brakes instead of an air system. While the trucker has a valid license, there will be vehicles he or she isn’t qualified to drive.
Your attorney will look closely at the driver’s credentials and whether the CDL, endorsements, and restrictions qualified him or her to drive that specific vehicle that day. Your attorney will also look closely into how the driver’s qualifications were obtained and whether the trucker’s driving record is clean.
Taking these tasks upon yourself can be difficult if you don’t have experience with the laws surrounding the trucking industry or with the litigation process. While your attorney understands the nuances of the law and how to best take advantage of the discovery process, you’ll have to learn these things from scratch at a time when you need the knowledge the most. Instead of creating stress, partnering with an experienced Chicago trucking accident lawyer can ease some of the burden.