Brian White | June 7, 2021 | Truck Accidents
Commercial truck accidents cause thousands of catastrophic injuries and deaths each year. Texas consistently has the highest number of large truck accident fatalities in the country. In 2018, 658 large trucks were involved in accidents in Texas, with 664 deaths.
Because commercial trucks continue to be involved in a large number of traffic accidents each year, the question of driving training becomes an issue.
Driving Commercial Trucks Requires Special Skills, Knowledge, and Experience
Tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and run at speeds of 70 to 80 mph. Passenger vehicles cannot withstand the impact of a collision with a semi-truck. Therefore, special care must be used when driving an 18-wheeler.
Driving a commercial truck is vastly different from operating a car or passenger truck. Truck drivers must have specialized training and education to operate a commercial truck. Drivers must complete several weeks of training and meet specific requirements to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
In Texas, there are several steps you must take to obtain your CDL, including passing various written and driving tests. There are three classes of CDLs and numerous endorsements.
The type of CDL you need depends on several factors, including:
- The type of semi-truck you intend to operate
- The cargo you intend to haul
- Whether you will be driving out of state
Truck driver error is often one of the contributing factors in commercial truck accidents. Mistakes, errors, and negligence behind the wheel of a semi-truck are often deadly for passengers of other vehicles. A truck driver’s training is often questioned whenever a truck accident is caused by a driver’s mistake or negligence.
Truck Driving Training and Education – Is it Sufficient?
The FMCSA established national training standards for new truck drivers in 2016. These standards are minimum training standards for entry-level commercial truck drivers. The entry-level driving training File Rule went into effect on February 5, 2017. Updated entry-level driving training (ELDT) requirements go into effect on February 7, 2022, but they are not retroactive.
Many people question whether the minimum standards are sufficient to train drivers to handle situations on the road. Truck driving schools provide most of the training in the classroom. Therefore, drivers may not have enough on-the-road experience to handle driving situations that could lead to a truck accident.
Truck driving schools follow the minimum standards for truck driving training to get drivers certified and into a truck. However, these schools may cut corners. The schools could manipulate records to make drivers appear to have high-quality training when the training was really substandard.
More could be done to ensure that truck driving schools provide adequate training for drivers, especially when trucking companies operate their own schools to train and certify their truck drivers.
Discovering Violations and Negligence After a Truck Accident
Sadly, violations of training standards and safety regulations are only discovered after a catastrophic truck accident. By that time, it is too late to prevent the deaths and catastrophic injuries caused by large truck accidents.
Law enforcement and government agencies conduct lengthy, expensive investigations after a truck accident. However, many of the safety violations and inadequate training issues are only discovered after a truck accident attorney conducts an independent investigation to uncover the cause of the accident.
The lawyer fights to obtain:
- Employment records
- Truck maintenance records
- Driving records
- Training records and information
- And other documentation that provides evidence of negligence or other wrongdoing
After an extensive investigation and analysis of the evidence, an attorney may discover that the truck driver did not receive adequate training. The trucking company may be partly to blame for the lack of training. Many companies hire inexperienced drivers because they can pay these drivers less money and push them to violate safety standards to increase delivery rates.
Holding Parties Liable for Commercial Truck Accidents
A semi-truck accident can cause substantial damages.
Victims of truck accidents often sustain catastrophic injuries, such as:
- Amputations and loss of limbs
- Traumatic brain damage
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Severe scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of internal organs or bodily functions
- Multiple fractures, broken bones, and crushing injuries
The cost of medical treatment for truck accident injuries can total hundreds of thousands of dollars. The victim may also require long-term personal care. The loss of wages and future lost earning potential can also result in substantial economic damages.
In addition to the economic damages, the pain and suffering experienced by victims can be immeasurable. Victims experience physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, and decreased quality of life. Someone needs to pay for all damages caused by a truck accident.
The truck driver, trucking company, and other parties may be liable for damages caused by a truck accident. Victims should discuss their case with a truck accident lawyer to learn about their legal rights and how much their case is worth.