Can Semi-Truck Drivers Stay on the Road After Multiple Accidents?
Lots of things in life take practice, and making mistakes is a natural part of human existence. Teachers make students do things again and again until they get it right. Successful people will often tell you that they learned the most from their failures. But some failures are costlier than others. It’s one thing to fail a test in school, or to lose money at one’s first effort at running a business. But it’s quite a different thing when failure can result in physical harm and death to innocent third parties. That brings us to the question we will address in this article - can semi-truck drivers stay on the road after multiple accidents?
The Importance of Recognizing and Distinguishing between Accidents, Liability, and Fault
While it is an important piece of information, it is not enough to simply look at the number of accidents in which a semi-truck driver has been involved. It really is necessary to consider all the circumstances surrounding the accidents. Was the truck driver at fault in all of the accidents, or did the driver of the other vehicle cause the accident? It may turn out that a driver actually has a good safety record but has been involved in multiple accidents over the course of a career due to the negligence of other drivers.
It is also important to consider the types and severity of accidents in which a tractor-trailer truck driver has been involved. For example, a truck could bump another truck at a gas station or strike a parked car while attempting to make a tight turn. While no accident is a good thing, these types of accidents harmed only property and at low rates of speed. Multiple accidents at high rates of speed that injured people might be viewed quite differently. Finally, it is important to consider a driver’s citations, even if accidents were not involved. A driver who receives many citations for dangerous driving is like a time bomb waiting to explode, even if no accidents have happened.
How Does the Law Help Identify Dangerous Drivers?
Federal regulations have been issued specifically designed to reduce or prevent truck accidents, injuries, and fatalities by disqualifying those who drive unsafely. The following regulations are some of those intended to help identify dangerous drivers:
- Commercial drivers can only have one license. This prevents them from attempting to use a second license when the first has been revoked or suspended.
- When drivers receive certain convictions, they are required to notify both their employer and the state in which they are domiciled.
- Drivers must provide their previous employment info when applying for new driving jobs.
- Testing and licensing requirements are established for commercial motor vehicle drivers. Additional endorsements are required for specialized circumstances, such as tank vehicles and double and triple trailers.
- States are required to give skill and knowledge tests which meet federal guidelines.
Once dangerous drivers are disqualified, employers are prohibited from allowing them to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
What Happens to Drivers Who Violate the Rules?
49 C.F.R. Section 383.51 addresses disqualification of drivers. The Code Section contains four tables which conveniently list driving offenses and the resulting consequences. We will provide a few examples, but have provided a link so you can review the chart in its entirety.
- A first offense for operating a truck under the influence of alcohol results in a one-year suspension.
- Leaving the scene of an accident results in a one-year suspension.
- The first incidence of causing a fatality by negligent operation of the commercial vehicle results in a one-year suspension.
- A second incidence of causing a fatality by negligent operation of the commercial vehicle results in suspension for life.
Call Us with Questions
At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, we know most truck drivers are hard-working and responsible. But a few aren’t, and we’re glad to know that the law attempts to protect society by holding them accountable for poor performance. If you’ve been injured by a semi-truck, please call us with your questions.