Drivers of commercial motor vehicles need to obtain a special license before they are qualified to operate commercial vehicles, including large trucks. Commercial Drivers License (CDL) requirements are stricter than the requirements for obtaining a standard license to drive a car because trucks are much more difficult to operate.
Simply having a CDL, however, is not sufficient proof a driver is qualified and competent enough to prevent truck accidents. Truck operators need to ensure they exercise reasonable care at all times behind the wheel and trucking companies need to hire only qualified, well-trained, experienced operators. If an unqualified driver is hired, an attorney with experience in truck crashes can work with victims to collect damages for serious or fatal injuries.
A CDL Is Not Sufficient to Show a Trucker is Qualified
In addition to requiring truck drivers have a commercial driver’s license, trucking companies should make sure they hire drivers with experience and real-world practical skills when it comes to safely operating a large, commercial vehicle.
The importance of independently-assessing driver competence was made clear recently when the Commercial Carrier Journal reported a scheme to help unqualified applicants obtain commercial licenses. The scheme took place at five different testing centers operated by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) throughout the New York City area. However, such a scheme could occur anywhere that licenses commercial drivers.
The scheme involved officials colluding with applicants for CDLs. The officials were paid $1,800 to $2,500 to help applicants to get through the CDL testing process. An “escort” was provided to guide the applicant through the process of qualifying for a license. External testtakers were employed and communications devices like BlueTooth were used to communicate with applicants and ensure they were able to successfully pass tests. Special pencils encoded with miniature answer keys for the CDL tests were also provided to those who paid for the “escort” services, making it easy to obtain the CDL.
Five officials took part in the fraud ring. State officials and the Department of Homeland Security conducted the fraud investigation. Such fraud schemes put everyone on the road at risk. That’s because a person with a commercial driver’s license can get a job with a long-haul trucking company and can operate a large tractor-trailer anywhere on the nation’s roadways. Investigators used hidden cameras and other investigatory tools to identify officials involved in the scam. Officials involved in the fraud scam now face up to 20 years in prison for their part in the scheme.
Such schemes prove that just because someone has a CDL does not mean the driver is qualified and capable for operating a commercial vehicle. That’s why trucking companies must conduct thorough background checks before hiring a truck driver. Unfortunately, many trucking companies have a hard time finding qualified drivers to transport goods. Currently, there’s a shortage of truckers across the country. Fortune called it a rolling crisis this May and indicated there is a shortage of as many as 40,000 qualified truckers. Even so, safety standards and training requirements should never be compromised simply because companies cannot find enough qualified drivers to operate their trucks.