An accident involving a truck is almost always catastrophic in nature, whether from the direct impact or from secondary injuries from a fire or the release of toxic materials. Unfortunately, such crashes are often fatal for the driver of a passenger car.
Commercial truck drivers in North Carolina must undergo specialized training before they can receive their commercial driver’s license (CDL). Unfortunately, inadequate driver retention is causing a severe crisis in the trucking industry and prompting a rise in the aggressive recruitment of younger drivers who are less knowledgeable, less experienced, and who may receive a shorter training experience that does not adequately prepare them for long drives.
New federal CDL training requirements
In February of this year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced new standards for CDL licensing after 30 years of revisions and delays. FMCSA requirements for entry-level training include enrollment in training programs that are part of a national registry that include classroom training and instruction in vehicle operation, roadside inspections before and after a trip, backing and docking, and driver distraction.
North Carolina licensing requirements include:
- A commercial learning permit, valid for 180 days with one renewal.
- Minimum age of 18 years old, and 21 for interstate commerce and hazmat endorsement.
- A vehicle that is in the category of the license for which the applicant is applying.
- An unexpired commercial learner’s permit, which includes vehicle inspection, basic control and road tests.
- Proof of a clean driving record.
- A medical card, depending on the type of CDL vehicle for which they are applying.
Where inadequate behind-the-wheel training becomes deadly
Unfortunately, the new federal standards for new truck drivers say nothing about minimum requirements for behind-the-wheel training. Although initial FMCSA committee recommendations for trucking experience included a minimum of 30 hours of driving on a public road, this requirement was dropped.
When compared to a commercial pilot’s licensing requirements of 250 hours of flight time, or 1,500 hours for a commercial airline pilot, the complete lack of practical driving experience for new truck drivers makes sharing the road with a truck seem more than a little risky now. In addition, the streamlining of pilot apprenticeship programs for 18- to 20- year-olds and an aggressive push toward allowing truck drivers under 21 to cross state lines should give us all pause.
When facing the aftermath of a serious accident involving a truck, it is essential to know what to do to receive the maximum compensation for your claims.