4,842 fatal crashes involved semi trucks in 2020. This is 4% less than in 2019 but 33% more than in 2011. Before they can operate, large commercial vehicle truckers must receive training. While the standards themselves may be adequate, there are some serious flaws in the delivery of semi truck training.
Trainers often focus too much on procedural details and not enough on critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This can lead to truckers who are unable to think for themselves and make decisions in difficult situations. These are trucker training standards all truckers in Houston Texas should follow.
Trucker Training Standards
Commercial truck drivers must complete a training program approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in order to operate a large truck. The training must cover topics such as vehicle inspection, cargo handling, and driving safety. The program must also include a practical skills evaluation.
Bad Habits Truckers May Learn
Some trucking companies cut corners when it comes to training. Trainers may not have sufficient qualifications or may not have enough time to train each driver in the correct way. As a result, truckers may develop bad habits that can put themselves and others in danger.
Here are a few of the most common:
Not Checking Blind Spots
One of the most important safety procedures for truck drivers is to check their blind spots before changing lanes. This is often skipped in training programs. As a result, new truckers may not even be aware of the blind spots or how to check them. This can lead to serious trucking accidents.
Speeding is a major cause of accidents involving large trucks. Unfortunately, it is also something that is often overlooked in training.
Though truckers learn the need to follow the speed limit, they might not always learn how important it is to drive at a safe speed for different conditions. As a result, they may make poor decisions regarding speeding.
Tailgating is another dangerous habit that truckers may develop. This is often due to inadequate training on how to maintain a safe following distance. If a trucker does not leave enough space between their vehicle and the one in front of them, it can lead to a rear-end collision.
Improper Lane Changes
Improper lane changes are another common cause of accidents involving large trucks. This is often due to inadequate training on how to signal and execute a lane change. If a trucker does not signal or check their mirrors before changing lanes, they may collide with another vehicle.
Poor Scanning Techniques
Poor scanning techniques are another common flaw in training programs. Truckers may learn how to scan the road ahead, but they may not receive training on how to scan their mirrors. As a result, they may miss something important that is happening behind them.
Distracted driving is a major problem among all drivers, but it is more dangerous for truckers. This is due to the fact that trucks take longer to stop than passenger vehicles. A distracted trucker may not see an obstacle in the road until it is too late to avoid it.
Fatigued driving is a major problem among truckers. Truckers are under pressure to meet deadlines. As a result, they may drive for long periods of time without taking a break. This can lead to serious accidents.
Not Knowing How to Use the Brakes
The brakes on a large truck are very different from the brakes on a passenger vehicle. Truckers must be trained on how to use the brakes before they can operate a large truck.
Not Knowing How to Handle a Jackknife
A jackknife is when the trailer of a truck swings out, forming a 90-degree angle with the cab. This can be dangerous and is often caused by inexperience. Truckers must be trained on how to avoid and handle a jackknife before they can operate a large truck.
Not Knowing How to Handle a Skid
Skidding is another common problem that occurs when truckers do not receive proper training. Truckers must learn how to handle a skid before they can operate a large truck.
Bad Personal Habits
Because of spending so much time alone and on the road, truckers often develop some bad personal habits that affect their driving. Some of these include:
Failure To Wear Seatbelts
Truckers are required to wear seatbelts while operating their vehicles. Many truckers do not follow this rule. This is because seatbelts can be uncomfortable after long periods of time. As a result, truckers may choose to not wear seatbelts, which puts them at risk in the event of an accident.
Eating and Drinking While Driving
Many truckers eat and drink while driving. This is often due to the fact that they are on the road for long periods of time and need to make sure they stay hydrated and fueled up.
Smoking While Driving
Smoking while driving is another bad habit that many truckers have. Smoking is a distraction that will take the trucker’s attention away from the road.
Talking on the Phone While Driving
Many truckers talk on the phone while driving. Talking on the phone while driving any vehicle is dangerous and illegal in many states. It is especially dangerous for truckers because it can lead to distraction and increases the chances of accidents occurring.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Lots of truckers do not get enough sleep. Because of the need to meet deadlines, many truckers feel like they need to push through and keep driving even if they are tired.
Cooking While Driving
Did you know some truckers cook while driving? They are on the road for long periods of time and need to make sure they have food. Cooking while driving is dangerous.
Drinking Alcohol While Driving
This needs no explanation. Alcohol consumption is prohibited while driving trucks. It impairs judgment and reaction time. The same is to be said of drug abuse while on the road.
Watching Movies or Reading Books While Driving
This seems ok to some truckers while on those long, predictable stretches. They are on the road for long periods of time and need to stay entertained. This is a bad habit, as a surprise can pop up at any moment.
Many truckers have untidy trucks. This often results in bottles and trash flying or rolling around the cabin while the truck is in motion. A messy truck is a distraction and can lead to accidents.
What Can Be Done To Improve Trucker Training Flaws?
The first step is to improve scanning techniques. Truckers should be taught how to scan their mirrors and the road ahead. This will help them to avoid accidents.
Truckers must receive training on how to use the brakes on a large truck. This will help them to avoid accidents. To further help avoid accidents, train truckers well on how to avoid and handle a jackknife.
Truckers should also learn how to handle a skid. The overall quality of trucker training programs needs improvement. This will help to ensure that all truckers receive proper training on how to avoid accidents.
Who Oversees Trucker Training?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversees trucker training. The FMCSA is responsible for making sure that truckers have the proper training and licenses.
If a trucker does not follow the standards set by the FMCSA, they may be subject to penalties. These penalties can range from fines to the loss of their license. In severe cases, truckers may even be subject to jail time.
Is The Trucking Industry Doing Enough?
The trucking industry has come under scrutiny in recent years for not doing enough to improve safety standards. There have been a number of high-profile accidents that have highlighted the need for better training and safety measures.
Despite this, the trucking industry has made some progress. For example, the Trucking Alliance has worked to improve trucker training standards and has developed a number of safety initiatives.
There is still much room for improvement. The trucking industry needs to do more to ensure that all truckers are well-trained and that safety is a priority.
Inadequate Training Programs
The problems listed above are just a few of the many that can arise from inadequate adherence to trucker training standards. If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident with a semi truck, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you investigate the cause of the accident and hold the responsible parties accountable.
The Ohara Law firm in Houston Texas specializes in semi-truck accidents. Our attorneys have experience in handling these types of cases and can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to get a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.