In order to drive a tractor-trailer or other type of large commercial truck, the driver must possess a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The CDL is issued by the driver’s home state after he or she has passed rigorous testing requirements. In addition to the information that non-commercial license holders must know, a CDL holder must also know bridge limits, speed limits, hazardous material regulations, and overnight parking regulations.
In addition to state regulations, the driver must also be aware of federal regulations in order to qualify for interstate travel. Some of these regulations apply to weight limits and hours of service regarding how many hours the driver is allowed to operate their vehicle before taking the required rest time.
CDL Holder Shortage
It has been well established that there is a shortage of qualified commercial truck drivers in the United States. This issue has led to trucking companies failing to ensure that all their drivers have the proper training and experience to drive these massive vehicles. Some trucking companies even go so far as to ignore a potential driver’s bad driving record or even to verify that the credentials the driver provides are valid.
The American Trucking Association estimates that the industry is short at least 63,000 drivers. This issue will only become more serious, as the organization projects that shortage could increase to almost 180,000 drivers by 2024.
This has led to several different proposals to lower the current minimum age to obtain a CDL from the current 21 years to 18. Two years ago, the FMSCA announced that it was seeking public comment about a proposal that would extend the Commercial Driver Pilot Program that allows 18- to 20-year-olds who have military training to drive large trucks interstate and include all drivers that age who pass a CDL test.
Congress has also taken up the issue. In March, a senator from Indiana introduced the Drive Safe Act which would allow commercial motor vehicle drivers under the age of 21. The bill is currently working its way through the legislative process. The proposed law is opposed by the Teamsters, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), and multiple safety advocate organizations. Opponents cite the lack of commercial driving experience, as well as the overall driving experience that drivers under the age of 21 have. This would likely increase the already high rate of fatal truck accidents.
Contact a Virginia Truck Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in any type of truck accident, contact a Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. Truck accident cases can be complex, and it is not uncommon for there to be multiple at-fault parties who are responsible for the payment of financial damages you may be entitled to for your injuries. Our personal injury firm has successfully represented many injured victims and their families and we are happy to meet with you and offer legal guidance on what the best options may be for your circumstances.
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