Commercial truck drivers are required to obtain a special driver’s license demonstrating their competency to operate these vehicles. Getting a CDL is just one step in being able to legally operate a heavy truck on U.S. roads. The Department of Transportation requires drivers to get medical clearance and to abide by hours-of-service rules and other regulations. Several recent cases show some of the methods used by drivers to get around these regulations.
In Louisiana, a commercial driver’s license examiner recently pleaded guilty after accepting cash bribes in exchange for the skills certificates necessary to get a CDL. He was falsifying test results for drivers who didn’t or were afraid they couldn’t pass the CDL test on their own. In Texas, a driver pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the DOT after he forged a nurse’s signature. Finally, the owner of a trucking company received fines and probation for making false statements to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Her false statement involved denying her previous relationship with a trucking company that received a poor safety rating and was ordered to shut down.
Unfortunately, the last situation is not uncommon. Trucking companies that run afoul of safety inspectors can dissolve and reform with seemingly clean records. There are rules against this, as the previous case shows, but it is a tall order for inspectors to catch every violator. Until they are caught, these violators increase the chance of a semi truck accident by continuing to ignore or sidestep necessary safety procedures. Unqualified or overworked drivers remain on the roads. Poorly maintained trucks continue to operate when they shouldn’t.
Big rig accidents often involve serious injuries or fatalities. Understanding how and why these accidents occur requires the ability to perform a detailed investigation. Truck drivers and trucking companies that cut corners should be removed from the roads. When they cause accidents, the victims of those accidents deserve to be fully compensated.
Source: Overdrive, “Trucking rap sheet: Another CDL test scheme, driver forges med cert,” by Matt Cole, 16 June 2016