According to the American Truckers Associations (ATA) there is a shortage of approximately 50,000 truck drivers in the United States. In a country that is so dependent on the transportation industry for such a wide variety of goods and services, this shortage is alarming. Even more disturbing, however is that in a rush to hire truck drivers, many employers may be apt to hire younger, less experienced drivers that do not possess adequate training. Since Chicago truck accident lawyers see numerous claims brought against trucking companies for accidents caused by truckers who do not have the proper experience or training throughout their careers, the possible increase of poorly prepared truck drivers is not good news.
With more than 3 million commercial trucks traveling the roadways of America, it is understandable that truck accidents are going to happen.The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration asserts that there are more than 5,000 fatalities due to truck accidents each year, and more than 100,000 truck accident injuries. Sadly, many of these accidents could have been prevented with adequate truck driver training. According to recent studies, approximately 27 percent of injury and fatality accidents involving large trucks were due to lack of adequate training or fatigue.
Drivers of large trucks are required to possess a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in order to operate big rigs and buses for a variety of reasons, but the main one is to help ensure the safety of the driver as well as other motorists. Unfortunately, simply obtaining a CDL is not enough to prepare drivers of the big rigs for actually operating on America’s roadways. In fact, many commercial truck driving schools even boast about how they can have a trucker on the road in as little as 15 days. Others claim that “3 weeks can really change your life”. When it is taken into consideration that during that 15 days or 3 weeks of “training” an abundance of classroom work, oral instruction and written testing is performed, which leaves just a few hours of actual time behind the wheel, it is easy to understand how so many drivers of those 80,000 pound trucks are barreling down the interstates at speeds of 80 mph without the proper training and experience. Unfortunately, those 3 short weeks of inadequate training really CAN change someone’s life- or end it completely.
Just How Inadequate is Truck Driver Training?
While there are hundreds of schools throughout the United States that offer truck driver training, and some are far better than others, they all offer basically the same type of instruction and have the same basic requirements. In most situations, driver trainees spend approximately one week in the classroom receiving information about safety, mechanical procedures and logging requirements. For many students, this is the first time in their lives that they will be introduced to this type of information, and they have just 5 days to let it soak in.
After a trucking trainee completes his or her time in the classroom, it is time to move behind the wheel. It is during this period that future drivers learn how to perform inspections and basically move the large trucks through and obstacle course, before moving directly to driving towns and cities, and even on the interstate. After just a few hours of actual drive time, these truckers are turned loose with their CDL. While some trucking companies require drivers to have a couple of years experience and clean driving records, a number of companies advertise that they will hire drivers directly out of truck driving school. Additionally, although a few employers will require that new drivers spend time riding with more experienced truckers, and some even offer additional training, this isn’t very common because of the time and expense involved.
The Destructive Power of Inadequate Truck Driver Training
Unfortunately, when inexperience and inadequate training is combined with a vehicle weighing close to 80,000 pounds and moving at high rates of speed, it creates a recipe for destruction and devastation. When traveling at just 55 mph., it can take the entire length of a football field for a fully loaded semi truck to come to a complete stop. A lot of damage can be done in that length of time, and when accidents involve the big rigs, the damage is often severe, resulting in significant injuries and sometimes even death.
While the actual number of truck accidents that could have been avoided with proper training is unclear at this time, the issue has become increasingly common in Illinois courts. Trucking companies are obligated to ensure that their employees receive adequate training in order to operate large trucks safely, and when an accident occurs, the trucking company can be held liable for damages.