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Is Inadequate Training of Truck Drivers Putting Lives at Risk?

A latino man sitting at the wheel of a commercial truck to illustrate how Is Inadequate Training of Truck Drivers Putting Lives at Risk

We assume everyone behind the wheel is well-capable of performing simple driving tasks or they wouldn’t be on the road. While that may be true to some extent, when it comes to drivers of large commercial trucks and big rigs, you might be surprised to learn that many of them may have received inadequate training – putting lives at risk.

Heavy, over-sized and dangerous

Truck drivers operate vehicles that are not only heavy, over-sized, and dangerous, but some of the goods they carry may be highly volatile. That’s why – in order to be permitted to drive a commercial truck, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required. And, although this type of license is necessary to ensure the driver’s knowledge is sufficient to drive such a vehicle, a CDL doesn’t guarantee a driver isn’t a safety risk.

Depending on the commercial driver’s years of experience or the amount of time he spent in a classroom and behind the wheel at one of the many local and national truck driving schools, obtaining a CDL doesn’t automatically make a truck driver ready for the open road.

Accidents are likely to occur

For example, with more than 3.2 million commercial vehicles traveling the nation’s highways, accidents are likely to occur – and, do – resulting in over 5,000 deaths and more than 100,000 injuries in trucking accidents every year, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. While these incidents can occur due to a variety of factors, including overloading, speeding, and distracted driving, one study concluded that about 27 percent of these accidents are directly caused by lack of adequate training.

Rush to fill shortage of drivers

A recent survey found that the U. S. is facing a shortage of about 50,000 commercial vehicle drivers. This shortage of drivers has caused a rush to get new employees trained and ready to transport shipments on short and long hauls with a single or double-trailer load.

And, without substantial time behind the wheel, an inexperienced driver pulling a double load is, in effect, an accident just waiting to happen. Because the handling characteristics are different from a single load, the novice driver may not be properly prepared for the various scenarios he may encounter. As a result, he may jackknife his rig, cut corners too short, or sway into adjoining highway lanes more easily.

Companies willing to take the risk

The transportation industry is large and requires many goods to be moved from one area to another for multiple businesses to service consumers. In some cases, companies are willing to take the risk of allowing drivers with less than adequate training to hit the road to get their goods delivered.

The question is – are you willing to take the same risk knowing that truck up ahead of you – the one that keeps weaving back and forth into your lane – is operated by a driver that may be short on adequate training?

No simple answer

There’s really no simple answer. However, a good place to start would be to provide adequate training to new and returning drivers as a way of reducing the number deaths and injuries from trucking accidents.

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