Made from heavy-duty steel, aluminum, and stainless steel and weighing up to 80,000 pounds, large commercial trucks can cause catastrophic damage when involved in collisions with smaller, lighter-weight passenger vehicles. This is just one of the many reasons why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates various aspects of the commercial trucking industry. In the interest of highway and public safety, the FMCSA requires trucking companies to adhere to strict screening and hiring practices for their drivers.
Given these regulations and the stiff penalties imposed for violating them, one might assume the commercial drivers with whom we share the road are all highly-trained and well-qualified to operate such large and potentially dangerous vehicles.
Unfortunately, this isn't always the case.
Trucking companies facing a shortage of qualified drivers may hire truckers with less-than-spotless driving records, rush novice drivers through inadequate training, or otherwise cut corners. These practices might lead to accidents, injuries, and even deaths. When an accident does occur, trucking companies who tried to skirt the FMCSA's screening and hiring regulations may be held liable for the conduct of an unqualified driver.
Were you or someone you love injured in a truck accident caused by a commercial driver who was inadequately trained or hired through negligent practices? Read on to learn more about FMCSA screening and hiring regulation violations, as well as how to exercise your legal rights after an accident.
Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Requirements
The FMSCA requires interstate commercial truck drivers to meet the following criteria:
- 21 years of age or older
- Ability to read, write, and converse in English sufficient to understand traffic signage, complete legs and reports, and interact with the public
- Hold a valid, state-issued Commercial Driver's License (CDL)
- Complete all written and driving tests in accordance with federal standards
- Pass a wide range of drug tests, including pre-employment, random, reasonable suspicious, return-to-duty, and follow-up drug testing
- Have a certificate of physical qualification to drive a commercial truck from a FMCSA-certified medical examiner
- Pass an annual review
- Fully list all moving violations and accidents on record in conjunction with the annual review
- Not disqualified from operating a commercial truck by another other federal regulations
The FMCSA also requires trucking companies to:
- Provide commercial drivers with adequate training
- Hire and train supervisors to detect drunk, drugged, or otherwise unfit drivers
- Report all accidents and related incidents to the appropriate authorities
- Ensure drivers are complying with the agency's hours-of-service regulations
Proper Commercial Driver Hiring Practices
Having prospective hires submit to complete background checks and physicals can help trucking companies make certain it's hiring qualified commercial drivers. However, an employer's responsibility to screen out dangerous or unqualified drivers doesn't end after the driver is hired. That's because proper commercial driver screening practices are multi-stage, ongoing processes.
As per FMCSA regulations, drivers must:
- Have their CDLs and Social Security numbers verified in pre-screening
- Allow their employment and driving records to be examined during the core training process
- Submit to and pass health physicals and pre-employment drug tests
Additionally, trucking companies can use on-going records checks, health screenings, and drug and alcohol testing to ensure the driver's compliance with FMCSA rules. Employers who violate FMCSA hiring and employment requirements may face fines of up to $10,000.
Do You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?
If you were involved in a truck accident that left you with serious injuries that required medical treatment, Randy Sevenish can help you seek compensation from the at-fault commercial driver or trucking company. With more than 30 years of experience, Sevenish knows the particulars of truck accident personal injury law, and can conduct an investigation to determine if a driver's employer was negligent in their hiring and screening practices.
Contact Sevenish Law's Indianapolis law office today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case consultation and analysis.