Driving a big rig is a completely different experience than driving a standard passenger vehicle. Even something as simple as taking a right turn is way more complicated in a big rig. As you may imagine, training is a core part of getting a CDL and becoming a tractor-trailer driver.
However, as the demand for commercial drivers has outpaced the number of people applying for commercial driving jobs, training standards have become a bit more relaxed at some companies. This has had a negative impact on road safety. If you’ve been affected by a truck crash, let us help. Call Bailey Javins & Carter at 800-497-0234 to set up a free consultation now.
What Proper Training Includes
Training requirements for CDL holders vary by state, although the FMCSA does note that applicants are expected to pass both written tests and skills tests. Per South Carolina law, CDL holders must complete an Entry Level Driver Training course before receiving their license. Truck driver training includes:
- Safe operating practices
- Different requirements, such as HAZMAT requirements
- Proper cargo securement
- Executing basic driving skills in a tractor-trailer
- Advanced driving operations
- Backing and docking
- Coupling and uncoupling
- Non-driving activities, such as documentation and truck inspection
Programs can take several months, depending on how accelerated the program is and whether or not a student wants additional endorsements on their license. Practical training is a significant part of any CDL program. No matter how much you read about safe driving, nothing compares to the experience you get behind the wheel of a big rig.
Consequences of Insufficient Training
Ideally, every commercial driver would feel completely confident executing any basic driving maneuver, safely loading cargo, and navigating any type of road before they begin working for a trucking company. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Truck drivers are retiring or switching industries faster than new drivers are replacing them, leaving many carriers with severe shortages. This means that some companies have started to push out drivers before they are truly ready to be on the road.
What happens when a driver with minimal training and experience hits a rough patch of traffic, gets stuck in a right turn, or experiences unexpected inclement weather? They are likely to panic. That leads to overcorrecting, freezing, and taking dangerous evasive action.
This has serious consequences—a driver who overcorrects or loses control of their vehicle can easily jackknife, which causes the trailer of the truck to spin into the tractor at a 90-degree angle. A jackknifed truck can spin out of control until it runs out of momentum and comes to a stop. Along the way, it may take out other vehicles, guardrails, and other obstacles. When it finally comes to a stop, it could be blocking several lanes of traffic.
Additionally, drivers with minimal training are often not prepared for the difficulties of life as commercial truck drivers. Going from driving one or two hours per day to suddenly driving 10 or 11 hours per day is a brutal transition. Drivers who struggle to stay awake may find themselves getting distracted more easily, drifting off in the final leg of their drive, or taking unnecessary risks while driving.
All in all, the industry’s shift toward relying on fresh CDL holders and providing bare minimum training has had a severe impact on roadway safety. Truck accidents have increased in many parts of the country, causing avoidable deaths and many more injuries. While it takes longer and costs more to provide new truck drivers with proper training, doing so benefits everyone.
The truck drivers themselves feel more confident and comfortable behind the wheel, and the people sharing the road with them are much safer. Companies spend less having to clean up after accidents caused by untrained drivers and companies shipping cargo know that their shipments will reach their intended destinations.
Hurt in a Truck Accident? Call Us Today
If you have been involved in a truck accident, it’s time to find out if you are owed compensation. Let the team at Bailey Javins & Carter help you as you explore your options. Schedule your free consultation now by calling us at 800-497-0234 or filling out our online contact form.