In a collision between your car and and 18-wheel semi-truck, who do you think is gonna win? It’s not even close. We assume that the individuals who are operating semis on our state’s highways are properly trained to reduce the risk of injury to other drivers. With over 5,000 semi truck accidents occurring annually, and with the heightened probability of severe injury and death due to the size of the vehicle involved, it is critical that the drivers of these trucks are competent to operate the vehicles in a safe fashion.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations [FMCRS] require an employer to only use "qualified and competent" drivers. To be qualified to drive under FMCRS, the driver must meet certain specific criteria:
1. At least 21 years of age.
2. Must be able to sufficiently read and speak the English language.
3. By reason of experience or training, the driver must be able to safely operate the vehicle.
4. Must be physically qualified to drive a commercial vehicle.
5. Must have a valid commercial motor vehicle operator’s license issued by only one state or jurisdiction.
6. Must have prepared and furnished the employer with the list of violations or the certificate as required by Sec. 392.27
7. Is not disqualified to drive a commercial vehicle under the rules in Sec. 391.15
8. Has successfully completed a driver’s road test
9. Has been issued a certificate of driver’s road test in accordance with Sec. 391.31, OR
10. Has presented an operator’s license or a certificate of road test which the motor carrier that employs him/her has accepted as equivalent to a road test in accordance with Sec. 391.33.
Unfortunately, many commercial carriers allow unqualified and unskilled drivers behind the wheel of these massive vehicles that we share the road with. Over the next few weeks, this column will look at some of the safety issues facing us as drivers and how we can avoid a collision with a vehicle that almost ensures we come out on the short end of the stick.