If you have ever been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, you might be wondering whether or not the truck’s operator was even qualified to be behind the wheel to begin with. In fact, driver qualifications are so important that federal regulations require freight companies to obtain specific background information on potential truck operators before they are hired.
How does a truck company decide whether or not a driver is qualified?
The Virginia truck accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have more than 40 years of experience in dealing with truck accident cases. We are familiar with the most effective methods of pursuing the maximum amount of financial compensation on behalf of our injured clients. We operate on a contingency fee, meaning that you don’t pay anything until we win your case. Call our Virginia Beach law firm today to schedule a free and confidential review of your potential case.
In the meantime, Here’s how trucking companies determine if a driver is qualified:
What Makes a Truck Operator Qualified to Drive?
In order to safely operate a tractor-trailer, there are certain legal requirements and qualifications that drivers must meet. These include:
Current federal regulations state that a commercial driver is considered qualified to operate a truck if they:
- Are 21 or older
- Are able to understand and read English
- Have had enough training or accrued enough experience to be able to operate a commercial truck safely and in accordance with the law
- Be physically able to operate a large truck
- Have filled out an application that lists all prior accidents and moving violations
- Have passed a driving practical or have a valid commercial driver’s license
Moving Violations and Background Checks
Current federal regulations also require truck companies to conduct background checks in order to ensure their drivers are thoroughly vetted. According to the regulations, any potential driver applying for a job with a freight company is required to fill out an application that lists any moving violations they committed within the last three years. They are also required to list every freight company that has employed them during the last decade.
Once a driver is hired, the trucking company has 30 days to get in touch with every single one of the driver’s previous employers. Federal law compels freight companies to get verification from each former employer, as well as a list of every accident they have been involved in, and any violations relating to drugs or alcohol. The trucking company must also get a Moving Violation Report from any state in which the driver has been licensed in the past three years.
Along with the mandatory background checks, freight companies are also required to have all new operators take a practical road exam in order to determine their competency level. If the operator already has their commercial driver’s license then they may be exempt from the road test as it means they have already passed one. The driving practical test the driver’s skill in the following areas:
- Conducting a pre-trip inspection
- Driving the vehicle in heavy traffic conditions
- Properly using emergency equipment and vehicle controls
- Safely turning and maneuvering
- Safely decelerating and braking
- Parking and reversing
What Disqualifies a Driver?
If a commercial truck operator commits a serious traffic infraction, they may be disqualified for a specific period of time. Drivers may be disqualified for up to 60 days for a combination of two violations or a second conviction in a three-year period for:
- Driving more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit
- Reckless driving
- Making illegal or dangerous lane changes
- Violating any law that leads to a fatal crash
- Texting behind the wheel
- Operating a truck without a valid commercial driver’s license
If a truck operator is convicted of driving under the influence or of fleeing the scene, even if they were not driving a commercial vehicle when the offense occurred, he could lose his license for up to one year.
Talk to an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
If you are injured in a commercial truck accident, a representative from the with freight company’s insurance provider is going to reach out to you sooner rather than later. Before you speak to anyone from any insurance company, we strongly encourage you to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Virginia truck accident attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. We can be reached at (833) 997-1774 or through the contact form on our website.