Most of us might expect commercial truck drivers to be required to go through extensive training before being allowed to operate large vehicles on Missouri and Illinois roads. The reality, however, is that federal standards when it comes to truck driver training are not as high as many safety proponents believe it should be. One advocate with the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety believes that semi accidents are often the tragic result of inadequate training requirements.
Specifically, current federal law requires commercial truck drivers to go through a mere 10 hours of classroom time before they can hit the open road in semis and tractor-trailers. What may seem particularly frustrating to some is the fact that the government has ruled that stricter laws should be enacted — and yet they have not yet been. In fact, last Thursday, a group of safety advocates sued the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in federal court, saying the agency had dragged its feet on the long-overdue demand to produce an entry-level driver training rule. The plaintiffs say the agency is more than 20 years late on producing the rule by the original 1993 deadline, as Congress ordered in a 1991 law, and is now nearly a year late on the same requirement made by a highway funding act.
Despite the fact that total motor vehicle deaths have decreased across the country, crashes which lead to injuries or fatalities have actually increased.
- Deaths increased 4 percent (to 4,000) during 2012;
- Injuries jumped 18 percent (to 70,000) during 2012; and
- Semi accidents which damaged property but not individuals numbered 200,000.
Certain larger truck companies go above and beyond the federal requirement for 10 hours of training for new drivers. Unfortunately, other companies may follow the letter of the law and send inexperienced drivers out with the bare minimum of training that is required. Some truck drivers are able to hit the road after spending little more than a day in class training. By passing a written test and taking a relatively simple driving test that bears a striking resemblance to a drivers’ license test, these drivers may find themselves responsible for driving extremely large vehicles with very little expertise.
Some safety officials point out that this could lead to innocent victims being injured or even killed in semi accidents. Less-than-scrupulous truck driving schools, often referred to as “diploma mills,” may prize churning out graduates of their programs without truly preparing them for safe operation of commercial vehicles. This is in stark contrast to truck companies which require their drivers to go through several weeks’ worth of training that involves both classroom work and driving with a senior truck driver present.
In the unfortunate event that inadequate truck driver training leads to semi accidents that injure Missouri or Illinois residents, there are legal options available to pursue for justice. Last week’s lawsuit against the FMCSA highlights the importance of taking action quickly if you have been a victim of trucking industry negligence. Personal injury and wrongful death laws provide one such avenue for victims to seek financial reimbursement. Please dial our St. Louis truck accident law firm toll-free at 1-888-586-7041. We can discuss the facts of your case and what rights you may have, and can also schedule a free initial meeting for a more in-depth discussion. Please keep in mind that truck companies and their drivers will have attorneys fighting to protect their interests, so it may best serve you to have one fighting on your side as well.
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