Truckers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and pass a medical exam before they can take to the road behind the wheel of a big rig. When driving, truckers must abide by state and federal regulations designed to keep them and others on the road safe.
Truck drivers who do not have these qualifications, and who do not follow applicable regulations, pose a danger to themselves and others. An unqualified truck driver is more likely than someone with training to get into an accident and, worse, to cause severe injuries and fatalities.
In this blog, we examine the problem of unqualified truckers and what you can do to stay safe around them.
An Aging, Unhealthy Workforce
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the median pay for a truck driver is $43,680 per year. You don’t need a college education or on-the-job experience to work as a truck driver, but you do have to pass the commercial driver’s license test. If you can pass the CDL, the trucking industry is one of the easiest to get into and make a living.
Still, the trucking industry has struggled recently to hire and retain drivers. The United States Census Bureau found that for 2019, a trucker’s median age is 46 years, which is higher than workers in other industries. The median age for workers in other industries is 41. Other notable statistics for truck drivers include:
- Only 7 percent of the truck drivers have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 35 percent for workers in other industries.
- Nearly half of the truck drivers work more than 40 hours per week.
- Compared to other industries with 10 percent of the workers having no health insurance, 15 percent of truckers do not have health insurance.
- A trucking salary of $43,252 per year is lower than all full-time workers, who have a median salary of $47,016 per year, but it is higher than other blue-collar jobs.
- As for age, at least one in 10 truck drivers are veterans, which means that they are more likely to have health problems because of their age.
In short, the trucking labor force is aging and relatively unhealthy, which is not a good combination when it comes to keeping others on the road safe.
What Is an Unqualified Driver?
There are many ways to define what constitutes an “unqualified” truck driver. They include:
- A person who drives a truck but does not hold a CDL, either because he has never obtained one or has let his CDL lapse;
- A driver whose CDL does not entitle him to drive a particular kind of truck. For example, the holder of a Class C CDL (for driving vans and light trucks) who tries to drive an 18-wheeler (which requires a Class A CDL);
- A trucker with medical problems that should disqualify him from driving a heavy truck, such as a dangerous heart condition or who has had a stroke and suffers from seizures;
- A truck driver with mental health struggles that affect cognitive (decision-making), motor (ability to steer, e.g.), or perceptual (visual impairments, such as not being able to see well at night) abilities;
Simply put, an unqualified driver is anyone who has not received approval, or who is not in adequate physical or mental condition to operate a truck safely on Nevada roads.
How Are Unqualified Drivers Able to Get on the Road?
The trucking industry has been short drivers for several years. An over-the-road driving job is grueling and keeps drivers away from home often. But these days, the demand for truck driving services is higher than ever. Employers may hire unqualified drivers to keep up with that demand. They may try to save money by hiring an unqualified driver who will accept lower pay than a driver with the proper qualifications. They may fail to check to make sure drivers they hired years ago still have the proper qualifications.
Then, too, some people who apply for a truck driving position may lie about, or even falsify, their qualifications to get the job. They may also fail to keep up with their obligations to stay qualified.
Accidents Caused by Unqualified Drivers
Any lack of qualification for a truck driver can cause many different types of accidents, which may include:
- Rollovers. A load that is not properly strapped down or otherwise secured could cause a truck to tip over, particularly when the truck tries to make a sharp turn. Speed also plays a part in rollovers, especially on highway on- and off-ramps. And, the weather plays a part in many rollovers. If a driver does not pay attention to the weather and continues driving in high winds, even after warnings, the wind could flip the truck.
- Head-on crashes. If a truck driver swerves out of her lane, she could cause a head-on wreck. Or, if a driver gets on the highway in the wrong direction, he could cause a head-on wreck. Not having control of the truck and not knowing the area are two main reasons for a truck driver to cause a head-on collision.
- Broadside collisions. Truckers who lack experience operating a truck’s air brakes, or estimating the distance needed to bring a truck to a full-stop, can overshoot intersections and cause broadside collisions.
- Maintenance-related crashes. An unqualified truck driver may not know how to inspect a truck to ensure its systems work properly before heading out on a long trip. For example, if the driver doesn’t notice or recognize the danger of a separated tire, the tire could come apart on the highway, leading to a loss of control and a potentially catastrophic accident.
These are just a few examples. More broadly, drivers who lack experience risk making a wide range of mistakes that can put themselves and others at risk.
If an unqualified truck driver causes you injuries in an accident or kills a loved one in an accident, a truck accident lawyer can help you learn about your right to recover compensation.
Benson & Bingham
626 S 10th St
Las Vegas, NV 89101