truck driver hiring

Negligent Truck Driver Hiring Practices

Commercial truck drivers are trusted with transporting heavy cargo and operating vehicles that pose a serious threat to smaller vehicles on the road. The National Highway Safety Administration reported that in 2012, 543 large trucks were involved in fatal accidents in Texas alone, while 39 were involved in New Mexico fatalities. This heavy responsibility makes it imperative for employers to ensure that they are only allowing responsible drivers to get behind the wheel of 18-wheelers and other trucks. A company who negligently allows a reckless driver to transport goods across the country could be held liable for any damage caused by their behavior.

Trucking companies are expected to take reasonable care in truck driver hiring. Among the steps that should be taken to thoroughly review a potential employee, a background check should be performed to look for red flags, such as:

  • Numerous driving accidents
  • Tickets
  • Drug use
  • Criminal history

These are the basic warnings that a potential employee may be a reckless driver who cannot be trusted with operating a huge vehicle.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations outline most of the laws governing what a company should be expected to do when hiring a driver. Their report on high-risk commercial drivers lists several factors as potential issues for employers to consider:

  • Age: statistics show that drivers from 18-21 were almost twice as likely to have a moving violation as those from 30 to 49
  • Experience: driving a commercial truck is very different than a passenger vehicle, and experience can make all the difference in performing this safely
  • Sleep disorder: any sleeping disorder can cause potential hazards, even if it’s simply a matter of a driver being unable to get a good night’s rest before a long drive
  • Impulsivity: those who show an inability to control impulses, such as violent tendencies, are more likely to engage in unsafe behavior, such as allowing road rage to cloud their judgment

In several past instances, trucking companies have failed to perform basic background checks on drivers before hiring them, leading to disastrous accidents. In November 2011, a jury awarded $7 million to the family of a driver who was killed when another truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and caused a crash. The driver had a previous record of unsafe driving, including two previous license revocations that would have been easily seen on a background test.

With over 300,000 highway miles, Texas tops the charts for the most 18-wheeler traffic in the country, while New Mexico is home to more than 70,000 miles of highway. These two states serve as important gateways for semi-trucks, tractor trailers, and other diesel vehicles to transport all kinds of goods across the South. As a Lubbock truck accident law firm, Liggett Law Group is all too familiar with the tragic results of unsafe truck driving practices and hopes to see more responsible truck companies and drivers who prioritize safety in the future.