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While employee turnover comprises a challenge for all industries, the commercial truck industry, in particular, is notorious for contending with an especially high turnover rate. Driving commercial trucks is a physically and mentally demanding job, and an aging population of workers means many experienced drivers are retiring to be replaced by fresh faces. A booming economy, combined with more time spent at home, has created an unprecedented demand for products carried by commercial trucks. To keep up with demand, some trucking companies will hire inexperienced or inadequately trained drivers. This is often a deadly mistake.
Working as a commercial truck driver requires thorough training and certification to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This training involves passing several written tests to evaluate road use and trucking knowledge, on-road skills tests to ensure the driver can safely operate and control the truck, and additional tests for carrying hazardous materials. It is incredibly dangerous for inexperienced or inadequately trained individuals to operate large trucks without this qualification. However, with some companies recording annual turnover rates of over 90%, the vast majority of current commercial truck drivers hold less than one year of experience. This makes the industry particularly vulnerable to safety hazards.
What Are the Risks of Hiring Inexperienced Drivers?
The commercial trucking industry requires drivers to spend long hours on the road every day, typically for weeks at a time. Drivers struggle with heavy traffic and extreme weather conditions, made even more dangerous by the sheer size and weight of their trucks. Safely transporting cargo while avoiding accidents requires specific knowledge and skills that can only be attained through professional training and certification. Experience is crucial because drivers should know how to operate their specific truck, including properly securing and balancing cargo, performing regular maintenance, and completing necessary repairs.
How Can an Unqualified Truck Driver Cause an Accident?
Because commercial trucks are so large and heavy, even the slightest mistake carries the potential risk of a catastrophic accident. Common mistakes made by hiring unqualified truck drivers include:
- Lack of awareness about crucial safety regulations
- Failure to heed guidelines concerning distracted driving and speeding
- Forgetting to be mindful of blind spots
- Ignoring basic maintenance requirements
- Carrying cargo that exceeds federal height or weight limits
- Neglecting to account for road and traffic hazards or dangerous weather conditions
- Not getting enough hours of sleep to stay alert and responsive
Types of Accidents Caused by Commercial Trucks
Due to lack of training or inexperience, unqualified truck drivers can cause any of the following types of accidents:
- Rollovers – Large trucks are vulnerable to rolling over when approaching sharp turns and on or off-ramps, especially when traveling at high rates of speed. During CDL training, qualified commercial truck drivers learn about how to avoid this danger and repeatedly practice navigating such turns in real-life driving conditions. Drivers without this training and experience do not have the knowledge or skill set to avoid potentially fatal rollovers.
- Rear End Collisions – The stopping distance of a large truck is much greater than a passenger car, even more so in inclement weather. A truck driver who is not mindful of stopping distance who approaches slowed or stopped vehicles risks being unable to stop in time, whether due to speeding or not applying the brakes quickly enough. Without proper stopping distance, the truck can cause a rear-end collision, sometimes resulting in an extensive pile-up of multiple vehicles.
- Head-On Collisions – Any individual operating a large truck must know the rules of the road and adhere to specific safety requirements. If distracted, fatigued, or inebriated, a truck driver may steer his truck into oncoming traffic or run it off-road. Unlicensed truck drivers are more susceptible to violating the rules of the road, often with lethal consequences.
- “Overheight” Accidents – Many roads and highways throughout the country run beneath tall structures like bridges or overpasses, making them impassable for large trucks. Licensed commercial truck drivers are aware of their vehicle’s height and know which roads to avoid due to height restrictions. An unlicensed driver operating tall trucks will be unfamiliar with these limitations and much more likely to cause an accident.
- Jackknifing Accidents – Licensed, experienced truck drivers know how to operate their vehicle to maintain the truck’s alignment and the trailer it’s pulling. They carefully accelerate and properly apply the brakes at appropriate times, so the trailer does not force the truck into a position where it becomes perpendicular to travel, referred to as a jackknife accident. An unqualified driver lacks the necessary knowledge for avoiding this hazard and can lose control of the truck, leading to a collision with other vehicles.
Choose Kreeger Law to Handle Your Truck Accident Injury Case
If you have been injured in a commercial truck accident due to an inexperienced or inadequately trained truck driver, talk with an experienced Sacramento attorney. You may be entitled to receive compensation for your damages. Truck accident cases are more complicated than car accident cases and require an experienced truck accident attorney. Contact Kreeger Law to discuss how we can help you receive justice and move forward after a traumatic truck accident. Call (916) 884-6093 today or visit our website to schedule a free consultation with our team of expert personal injury attorneys.