A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is required if a person is operating 1) a vehicle or combination of vehicles with a gross weight over 10,000 lbs.; or 2) a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more people. Trucking companies or transportation companies (motor carriers) employing such drivers must make sure their drivers are qualified. And that makes sense, right? We want large vehicles (tractor-trailers often weigh up to 80,000 lbs.) and buses to be operated safely on our roadways. But beyond making sure their drivers have valid CDLs, should motor carriers be doing anything else?
Ken recently spoke to a group of fellow trucking safety lawyers on just that topic: Motor Carrier Duties to Train Drivers.
Beyond ensuring its drivers have valid CDLs, a motor carrier must show “it has adequate safety management controls in place” to reduce the risks associated with “Improper use and driving of motor vehicles,” “Unsafe vehicles operating on the highways,” and other dangers to the public.
The key to those safety rules, though, is “adequate.” Does that make you feel safe knowing all those trucks and buses on the highways and streets are “adequate” in terms of being safe? Those regulations are merely a baseline for safety — the bare minimum a motor carrier needs to meet to put massive vehicles out on the public way.
Thankfully, there are many trucking companies that meet those requirements and then exceed them by instituting rigorous driver training programs. Smart, safe, responsible motor carriers provide their professional drivers the education and tools needed to reduce the risk and number of crashes. Moreover, they create and enforce their own additional rules — often contained in a company driver manual — and systematically check whether their drivers are following the rules.
Speaking from experience, Ken discussed the numerous small, “mom-and-pop” motor carriers that ignore the “extra” safety measures because they believe meeting the bare minimum requirements is enough. He and Jay have taken the deposition of numerous motor carrier Safety Directors over the years. Some of those people discuss the importance of doing more than what’s required, while others are content to just squeak by. Which motor carriers do you think are less likely to have trucks and drivers causing crashes?