There are thousands of collisions on our highways every year involving 18 wheelers – many of which cause untold amounts of damage, injury and grief, including loss of life. As a lawyer who has spent years involved with lawsuits where a truck driver’s actions caused such a crash, families of people killed in such a collisions often tell me “If only it was possible for trucking companies to know when they hire truck drivers which ones will cause crashes and which ones won’t”. And I routinely tell them that “In large part, it is”.
The United States government requires that a trucking company perform a comprehensive background check on potential truck drivers before they hire them to determine if such truck driver is qualified to safely operate an 18 wheeler. Unfortunately, all too often trucking companies fail to take this responsibility seriously and allow truck drivers to get behind the wheel when such driver’s past history makes it obvious that they should not be allowed to do so.
A recent study by the American Transportation Research Institute is the latest in a long line of information that demonstrates how useful looking at a truck driver’s driving record can be to help predict how safely a truck driver will operate his 18 wheeler in the future. This two-year study, looking at over 500,000 truck drivers, revealed that a truck driver who has previously been convicted of failing to properly use a turn signal was 96% more likely to get into a future crash than a truck driver with no such conviction. Even a history of one erratic lane change the study showed created an 80% more likely chance that such truck driver would be involved in a future crash. When you include information such as tickets and convictions for improper passing, improper turns and running a red light or stop sign, it is clear that, when doing the federally mandated background check on prospective truck drivers, trucking companies have extensive tools at their fingertips to help make our roads a safer place for our families and actually predict future crashes.
A good prudent trucking company who takes their obligation seriously to insure that they employ only safe truck drivers will conduct a thorough background check before they ever allow a truck driver to drive for them. A good prudent trucking company will know at all times exactly how much many prior collisions their truck drivers have been involved in; exactly how many tickets they have received in their careers as professional drivers and exactly what their previous employers think about them as drivers. Anything less is unacceptable. Anything less is against the law.