Here’s a startling fact: According to the American Trucking Association, transport companies are short 25,000 qualified drivers to meet the growing industry needs of the freight industry. By the year 2025, trucking companies will need to hire approximately 100,000 qualified drivers to keep up with the increase of freight tonnage being hauled across highways in the United States. Because of the pressures of strict deadlines and full schedules, more carriers are hiring inexperienced and inadequately trained drivers to operate their semi trucks.
Trucking companies are responsible for protecting the public from damages caused by their drivers. Accidents happen even with most experienced drivers…however, accidents that occur because an inadequately trained driver was operating the vehicle reflects negligence by the company owners. Unfortunately, carriers that are under pressure to complete jobs sometimes resort to putting these drivers behind the wheel of their trucks prematurely. These hiring practices put the public at risk.
Safe Driving & Inexperience
Driving a tractor-trailer safely requires adequate training. The driver must be able to navigate the vehicle hauling heavy loads in all kinds of weather. A driver without appropriate experience and training behind the wheel may lack the judgment to avoid a crash in a challenging situation. In addition, the pressures to deliver freight on time may lead drivers to behave aggressively on the road, putting other drivers at risk. Many of us have experienced the unpleasant circumstance of being “sandwiched” in between two or more semis and not being sure of what to do. Negligent drivers also text or talk on the phone while hauling freight that typically weighs twenty to thirty times more than a car, distracting him from responsibly handling this huge, heavy vehicle and increasing the likelihood of a crash.
Hours of Service
By law, truck drivers are limited in the number of sequential hours they may be on the road operating a vehicle. Because of the pressure to meet a deadline, a driver may exceed these hours, increasing the risk of fatigue, which could lead to poor decision-making skills on the road. Or worse, dozing off at the wheel. If a carrier becomes aware of a driver using prescription or illegal drugs to stay awake and knowingly places that driver behind the wheel, they are negligent.
Holding Carriers Responsible
It is ultimately the responsibility of the carrier to ensure that their drivers are adequately trained to comply with the regulations and skills necessary to operate a semi truck. Checklists need to be put in place and maintained daily. Adequate recording of hours must be in place to avoid placing less than alert operators in the driver’s seat. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 3,602 people were involved in fatal truck collisions in 2013. Over two-thirds of those people were occupants in cars, while 15 percent were motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Many factors may affect a highway crash. Negligent driving is a cause that can be minimized by ethical hiring practices.
If negligence is suspected, it may be assessed as a primary cause of a crash through a study of the following criteria:
Did the driver have appropriate training?
Did the crash occur due to truck driver error?
To what extent, if any, was another motorist or party responsible for the crash?
Was the carrier aware of driver deficiency? Or any defects in the truck itself?
Any skilled injury attorney in Colorado can explain how the carrier could be charged with negligence and held responsible for a crash if any of these criteria are present. Our Denver based injury law firm has seen the unfortunate results of these terrible crashes and encourage drivers to be extra careful around 18-wheelers.
Making a Case for Negligence
The more evidence there is to work with, the better the chances that the victim receives compensation. As with any auto accident, it is important to take pictures, speak with witnesses, not move any vehicles or obstacles, and document everything. The truck driver’s logbook should show the acceptable sequential driving hours, and his record should show adequate training. A good police officer will ask for the logbook on the scene but may need reminded to do so. Otherwise, the book could be changed before it is viewed by anyone. The victim should also keep detailed records of any medical bills or outstanding expenses caused by the accident, as well as potential wages lost by the victim as a result of carrier negligence.
Seek Professional Help
Victims of any automobile crash often suffer from physical, mental and emotional injuries as well as financial loss. If you have have been injured due to negligent driving and/or as a result of negligent hiring practices on behalf of a trucking company, contact our Denver trucking accident attorneys today. We will help you to clearly understand what your legal rights are and help you establish a case to help you recover your losses.