Drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) are in high demand, thanks to the growing reliance on online shopping and the globalized nature of our economy. Companies are going to great lengths to recruit new workers. However, this means that accidents involving inexperienced truck drivers are becoming increasingly common.
Trucking Companies Have Shockingly High Turnover Rates
Every industry struggles with employee turnover, but the trucking industry is known for struggling to keep qualified drivers. Turnover varies according to carrier, but it's not uncommon for companies to have yearly turnover rates of 90-100%. This means that the overwhelming majority of their drivers have been with the company for less than one year.
While some turnover is the natural result of experienced drivers seeking better wages, improved benefits, or more desirable hours, much of this turnover is related to people who leave the industry and are replaced by new drivers.
Commercial drivers often work long hours, spend weeks away from family and friends, and are socially isolated when they're on the road. They're also dealing with extreme versions of the stressful situations most drivers encounter during a daily commute: heavy traffic, bad weather, and worrying about whether other drivers are going to cause an accident.
New drivers are often attracted to the industry by the promise of hefty sign-on bonuses and the idea of getting paid to travel the country. Often, these new drivers are individuals who have left other careers and are unable to find suitable work in a shaky economy. There is also a growing trend of retirees earning a CDL to generate supplemental income due to insufficient retirement savings.
How Inexperienced Drivers Can Cause an Accident
Some of the ways inexperienced truck drivers can cause an accident include:
- Failing to recognize the dangers of speeding
- Failing to heed guidelines regarding distracted driving
- Not getting the rest they need
- Improperly assessing weather-related hazards
- Improperly accessing road and traffic hazards
- Ignoring truck maintenance requirements
- Carrying cargo loads that exceed federal laws
- Forgetting to check blind spots
- Being unaware of crucial safety laws and regulations
You may notice that a lot of these errors are similar to the types of mistakes a newly licensed teen driver might make on the way to school. However, the potential for a disastrous accident is much greater in a commercial vehicle due to the truck's massive size. Consider the following:
- The maximum weight for a semi-truck and full trailer is 80,000 pounds over 18 wheels.
- Semi-trailers are generally 53 feet long.
- Most diesel engines put out 1,200 to 2,050 lb. per ft to keep the weight of the vehicle moving.
Types of accidents often linked to truck driver inexperience include:
- Blind spot collisions
- Rear-end collisions
- Side-impact collisions
- Jackknifing accidents
The Impact of Licensing Fraud
When a truck accident is caused by an inexperienced truck driver, it’s important to look at the driver's history to make sure he is fully qualified to be behind the wheel. Due to the high demand for CDL drivers, several unscrupulous companies have popped up to help workers forge the documents needed to find employment. For example, a 2006 report from the Department of Transportation found 15,000 suspected fraudulent license holders in 27 states. These fraudulent license holders included people with falsified exam results, as well as those who had lost previously valid licenses due to safety violations.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Protect Your Right to Compensation
If you've been injured in an accident caused by a commercial driver, you may be entitled to compensation for accident-related damages. This includes:
- Medical expenses, including anticipated future medical costs if you've been left permanently disabled
- Lost wages, including anticipated loss of future earning potential due to a disability
- Pain and suffering
The best way to protect your right to a fair settlement is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to gather evidence, document damages, and negotiate with the trucking company's insurer on your behalf. Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's legal team is dedicated to protecting the rights of injured Louisiana residents. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.