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Feds Propose New Regulation Imposing National Training Requirements for Entry-Level Truck Drivers

The trucking industry claims a high toll in loss of lives and injuries because of the massive size and weight of tractor-trailers.  Although many safety regulations and practices can reduce the toll claimed by unsafe big-rig operators, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently recognized the importance of adopting minimum standards for entry-level truck drivers.  The prospect of young drivers without a certain amount of experience operating a tractor-trailer is a frightening prospect.  Our trucking accident lawyers laud the efforts of the FMCSA to establish basic training standards for newly licensed commercial drivers.

Proposed New Commercial License Requirements

In March, the FMCSA proposed a set of mandatory training standards for entry level commercial operators of trucks and buses.  Our tractor-trailer accident lawyers view these changes as a step in the right direction toward making our roads safer.  Drivers seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) would need to satisfy the prerequisite training standards for novice drivers of trucks and buses.  Under the proposal, applicants for a “Class A” CDL, which is required to operate a tractor-trailer combination weighing 26,001 pounds or more, must complete thirty hours of behind-the-wheel training program that complies with FMCSA standards.  The instruction programs must include at least ten hours of operating a vehicle in this class on a practice course.

If entry level drivers wish to obtain a “Class B” CDL, which is required to operate a heavy straight truck (e.g. box truck or dump truck), city transit bus, motorcoach, city transit bus, or school bus, the applicant must complete 15 hours of behind-the-wheel time.  The required time also includes a minimum of seven hours on a practice course.  Timing requirements are not imposed for classroom portions of the training programs.

The regulation would apply nationally as well as in the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.    Individuals covered by this new prerequisite for licensing would include:

  • A disqualified CDL holder attempting to reinstate a license
  • First-time applicants for a CDL
  • CDL holders seeking to upgrade a license (e.g. upgrading from Class B to Class A) or an additional endorsement (e.g. hazardous materials)

Pre-Employment Screening

Commercial carriers engaged in interstate trucking must obtain certain background information before hiring a driver.  Under federal regulations, the trucking company must obtain a comprehensive application that discloses the applicant’s prior accidents and moving violations during the three years preceding submission of the application.  The application also must require disclose of all motor carriers for whom the applicant has worked during the preceding ten years.  Federal requirements also mandate that the trucking company must investigate the information disclosed by the applicant.  Information that must be obtained from prior employers includes prior accidents, employment verification, and violations involving controlled substances and alcohol.  The hiring commercial carrier must also obtain a certificate of medical fitness from the applicant.  These are just some of the requirements that mandate pre-employment screening for commercial carriers.

When trucking companies neglect to conduct adequate pre-employment screening and training of drivers they hire, the decision to cut corners by retaining less expensive and unqualified drivers can constitute a basis for imposing liability.  When unqualified drivers cause trucking accidents, our experienced Florida trucking accident lawyers conduct discovery and carefully analyze documents.  We strive to uncover evidence that the commercial carrier failed to take sufficient efforts to ensure that the person to whom they entrusted a tractor-trailer had the appropriate background, experience, skill, driving record, employment history, and temperament to safeguard public safety.  Because the critical evidence in trucking cases often is altered or “lost,” we are proactive and aggressive in obtaining and preserving evidence.

If you are involved in a trucking accident where you sustain injuries or lose a loved one, you should seek medical attention promptly and seek legal advice from an experienced Miami tractor-trailer accident lawyers.  If you have been injured by an unqualified or otherwise unsafe truck driver, the Florida trucking accident lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer the assistance you need to obtain the results you desire.  With over 130 collective years of experience representing motor vehicle collision victims across South Florida, our firm provides legal representation of unmatched excellence.  Contact our firm as soon as possible to start on the road to protecting your legal rights.  Our firm received an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and was ranked as a top firm in South Florida by the Miami Herald.   Put our trucking injury lawyers to work on your case.  Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or you can visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.



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