We all understand we need to live with trucks on Boston roadways. Trucks fulfill our needs for everything impacting our daily lives—food, clothing, and medicine. A robust truck force keeps the economy whirring.
The Bay State is estimated to have nearly 3,000 registered commercial trucks. These vehicles require drivers who are fully qualified to operate per the requirements for CDL Licensing. Despite this, sometimes, trucking companies hire drivers who are not fully qualified to operate a truck safely on Boston roadways, endangering everyone on the road.
Driver Shortages Drive Poor Hiring Habits
Over the last few years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has warned about truck driver shortages. About three-million truck drivers work in the United States, most making a median wage of slightly more than $47,000 annually. Still, the workforce is too low for the U.S.’s needs. While a high school diploma may be enough to become a trucker, those who enter the field must understand it isn’t merely a job—it is a lifestyle.
Drivers are often gone from their homes for days, and in some cases, for weeks at a time. This can make it more challenging to hire properly qualified people. As a result, trucking companies may cut corners when they hire drivers.
Requirements for CDL Licensing
Under federal law, employers must screen each driver before hiring them.
Some of these screenings may include:
- Medical tests – It is not hard to believe certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy or sleep apnea may impact a driver’s ability to operate a large truck safely. Commercial drivers are required to pass certain medical screenings.
- Eye examinations – Drivers must meet minimum vision requirements, like those imposed by requests for licensing required to operate any motor vehicle.
- Background checks – All drivers must pass a background check, which includes fingerprint checks for those who handle hazardous waste.
- Drug and alcohol checks – All drivers must undergo drug and alcohol tests before hiring and pass those checks.
- Driving record checks – Employers must ensure the truck driver they hire does not have any gross violations of driving rules and make sure they were never convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
An employer must screen drivers before hiring them. Drivers must pass written tests, road tests, and instruction hours. Employers must review identification, fitness for the job, driving record, age restrictions, citizenship requirements, and proper certifications before hiring. With the truck driver shortage, these arduous requirements are harder to fulfill.
When Employers Hire Unqualified Truck Drivers
Like any other business, a trucking company is motivated by profits. An empty truck sitting in their parking lot is not making money—getting a driver behind the wheel transporting goods is the way to make money. This may lead an employer to take shortcuts in the hiring process—or in how they treat drivers after hiring.
Some negligent actions a trucking company may engage in include:
- Ignoring pre-hiring flags – A company may fail to verify the driver has a driving record free of reckless driving or driving while impaired, and the driver they are hiring may have a prior bad driving record. Once the driver with a dangerous record is hired, the chances are they will continue to drive in a manner that puts others on Boston roadways at risk.
- Poor training after hiring – Even when a driver meets the minimum requirements for hiring, they still must receive training. Eager to get their fleet in motion, employers may fail to adequately cover basic issues such as safety procedures, defensive driving skills, and ensuring the driver understands proper driving techniques.
- Poorly structured incentives – Offering a Boston truck driver incentives is a great way to encourage them to accept employment. However, when they base those incentives on how fast they can get something delivered, drivers may be violating work hours rules and may also speed.
Other hiring, training, and employment issues may result in a trucking company’s partial liability for injuries caused by unqualified truck drivers in Boston. A Boston truck accident attorney can review your specific truck accident information and help you determine whether the employer may have engaged in conduct that put you and others at risk on Boston roadways.
When Unqualified Drivers Travel Boston Roadways
We all understand an accident can happen to anyone. However, a truck traveling on Boston roadways operated by an inadequately trained or altogether unqualified driver can wreak havoc and can alter the life of anyone whose path they cross.
Proper training may avoid:
- Rear-end accidents – A truck cannot stop nearly as quickly as a car. In fact, if a truck travels at 65 miles per hour, a standard limit on many Bay State highways, they will require the equivalent of two football fields to come to a full stop. Rear-end accidents can not only cause serious injuries to the driver in the vehicle in front of a truck, they can also lead to more serious accidents involving multiple vehicles.
- Rollover accidents – Sharp turns, particularly on ramps, can cause a truck traveling too fast to tip over. A qualified driver learned the skills needed to avoid the problems associated with navigating sharp turns during their training—assuming they received proper training. The last thing you want to do is share the road with a driver who is learning this while carrying a fully loaded trailer and posing a danger of catastrophic injuries or death.
- Over-height accidents – If you live or work in Boston you are probably familiar with the Storrow Drive Bridge. Unfortunately, you do not have to live or work here to have heard the phrase “getting Storrowed.” In fact, this infamous bridge cannot actually accommodate moving trucks without scraping their roofs. Drivers who ignore the warning signs or figure they can slide through can cause deadly collisions that can result in the truck getting stuck under a bridge, debris flying into vehicles, and the top of the truck shearing off, which can cause other motorists serious injuries.
- Jackknife accidents – These accidents occur when a trucker who is inexperienced or lacks the knowledge or awareness to apply their brakes safely to ensure the tractor and trailer portions of the vehicle remain aligned. Otherwise, a jackknifing accident which can lead to catastrophic injuries can occur when the truck veers out of control and hits other motorists.
- Off the road and head-on collisions – Drowsy truck drivers, inattentive drivers, and those who drive impaired can put everyone at the risk of injury on Boston roadways. The trucking industry regularly conducts drug screenings and has strict rules pertaining to hours of service for a reason—to prevent the potentially deadly consequences of a big rig operator dozing off or falling asleep at the wheel.
The dangers of unqualified truck drivers are real, and for anyone who has suffered an injury or lost a loved one due to an unqualified truck driver in Boston, it’s all too real how truck accidents change lives. Trucking companies who insist on hiring drivers whom they cannot count on to perform to the highest standards should pay if you suffer an injury or lose a loved one. If this applies to you, contact a Boston truck accident attorney immediately and find out what legal rights you have and what steps you should take to hold them accountable.
Injuries Caused by Unqualified Boston Truck Drivers
Truck accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. Passenger vehicles are no match for a truck—the weight differences are staggering. According to the Department of Energy (DOE) the average car when empty weighs between 2,400 and 5,000 pounds. The average empty big rig weighs between 20,000 and 26,000 pounds. Imagine what happens when two empty vehicles collide. Imagine now the truck is fully loaded—it can easily weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds. When that much weight disparity, the chances a victim will suffer death or a catastrophic injury significantly increases.
When a victim does not die due to an accident, some injuries they can suffer include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – Victims suffering from TBI who are fortunate enough to come out of a vegetative state often face a lifetime of cognitive, motor skills, and other impairments they may never recover from.
- Spinal cord injuries – Unfortunately, these injuries often mean a victim must adapt to an entirely new life where they are paralyzed and forced to live in a wheelchair.
- Burn injuries – When a truck is carrying hazardous materials, or the collision results in a fire, victims can face long-lasting trauma, face multiple skin grafting procedures, and have scars that disfigure them permanently.
- Amputations – In some cases, victims may lose a limb in a truck accident due to crushing injuries. These victims require surgery, will likely require prosthetics, and face long periods of rehabilitation.
- Injuries to the neck and back – Unfortunately, these injuries often never fully go away. Victims often must live with unimaginable levels of pain throughout their lives.
These are only some of the potential injuries a victim may suffer when they are involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer. To figure out the extent of injuries for which you may recover compensation, contact an attorney with experience holding trucking companies liable for negligent hiring practices, and fight to get the funds you need to care for your family while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
Working With a Truck Accident Attorney
When you have lost a loved one in a truck accident, or you have suffered an injury in a truck accident, you may have a storm of questions in your mind. Often, victims consider passing up working with an attorney because they believe they can handle the claims process on their own. This is often a mistake.
Insurance company adjusters and claims personnel know they have more latitude when a victim is representing themself in their claim. In some cases, they will ignore your claim until you give up; in other cases, they will make a quick settlement offer in hopes that you will accept it; and, in other instances, they may simply deny liability and not offer any compensation.
When you hire an attorney to help you with your unqualified truck driver claims, you hire more than a lawyer. You are hiring an advocate: Someone who will get the answers you need and fight to secure proper compensation for your losses. While money cannot replace your loved one or your pre-accident life, you can secure a more stable financial future for yourself by calling a Boston truck accident lawyer.
No company should hire unqualified workers, regardless of the field in which they operate. However, when a trucking company hires unqualified truck drivers, they put lives at risk. If you or a close one are injured because a trucking company failed to exercise the care to ensure their truck driver was qualified, they should answer for your injuries. Especially with the help of an experienced truck accident attorney, you can have them held accountable.