Posted On: September 16, 2009 by Shorstein & Lasnetski

Should New Semi Truck Drivers Have to Meet Minimum Safety Standards?

Because of the potential danger of serious and fatal traffic crashes posed by semi trucks to other drivers, the government agency responsible for regulating trucking companies and semi truck drivers has set forth numerous regulations designed to keep tractor trailers and their drivers safe and prevent accidents. These regulations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR's), cover topics like drug and alcohol testing, road tests, background checks, fatigue and hours of service, medical exams and many others. There is a big book covering these safety regulations with sample questions and examples.

As personal injury and wrongful death lawyers who represent Plaintiffs who have been injured in traffic accidents caused by semi trucks or have had family members killed in truck accidents, we have questioned semi truck drivers and trucking company personnel to gauge their knowledge of these regulations. Because the FMCSR's are specifically designed to make sure semi truck drivers are safe, we believe it is imperative for all tractor trailer drivers and trucking company personnel to know the FMCSR's inside and out. However, our experience with semi truck drivers has been far different. It is the rare case when a semi truck driver is very knowledgeable about the FMCSR's. In fact, it is not uncommon for semi truck drivers to know very little about the safety regulations. All too often, we question semi truck drivers who are not familiar with the specific regulations dealing with the particular reason they caused the crash, such as fatigue/hours of service, equipment problems or drug and alcohol testing.

The FMCSA has proposed a new regulation that would require new truck drivers to pass a safety exam that would test their knowledge of the FMCSR's. It is surprising to know that the current system does not check and make sure new semi truck drivers do not have even a basic understanding of the safety regulations for truckers. Driving a semi truck is more complicated than a regular vehicle, and there are many other issues tractor trailer drivers need to be aware of. It seems fundamental that before a person can drive a semi truck for a living, he/she should have to prove that he/she has a good understand of the safety regulations.