According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there are no federal standards for the training of commercial drivers.
Every day on Chicago’s roads, drivers encounter tractor trailers. These big rigs bring in goods and materials that make life more comfortable but the sheer size of them poses a potential threat to the safety and lives of others around them. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is serious about improving truck safety and is currently looking at commercial driver training and its connection to a truck driver’s ability to operate these rigs in a safe manner.
Truck driver training programs
The Commercial Carrier Journal states that the trucking industry is predicted to grow within the next 11 years by 71.4 percent. This means there will be more tractor trailers on the road and a greater need for drivers who possess a commercial driver’s license. If one conducts a Google search for CDL training in Illinois, that person will find pages of companies that offer CDL programs.
There are essentially four types of CDL training programs according to the FMCSA and these are the following:
- CDL-focused training – this type of program is a short-term program that essentially teaches people what they need to know in order to get their learner’s permit and pass the driving tests given by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Simulator training – Rather than spending most of their time driving an actual vehicle, this program uses a driving simulator
- Conventional training – Students in this program spend time in a classroom and then apply what they have learned on a driving course. They practice responding to different situations, how to properly shift the gears on the semi and turning the semi under the watchful eye of a trainer.
- Informal training – Rather than spending time in a classroom or behind the wheel of a semi, the person learns how to drive a big rig from a family member, friend or even someone they don’t know very well. The person may not even be certified as a CDL trainer.
With such a varied range of instruction methods, commercial drivers may not be receiving the necessary training when it comes to driver safety and how to handle situations like weather conditions, road conditions and traffic flow.
Surprisingly, unlike other training programs, which must go through a rigorous process to be accredited, the FMCSA states that when it comes to CDL training, there are no federal requirements. Some programs may only provide a brief overview of safety procedures which could heighten the risk of drivers getting into truck accidents.
Furthermore, there are no standards set when it comes to the instructors either. While instructors at a Professional Truck Driving Institute are required to follow a curriculum standard, other programs are allowed to simply hire whoever they want and the range of material covered by these programs can vary greatly. Some programs may be preparing drivers without any focus on driver safety beyond what the CDL tests will cover.
Without a set standard for driver training programs and instructors, the projected increase of trucks and truckers on the road could lead to higher numbers of crashes and serious injury. Victims of truck accidents should contact an experienced Chicago truck accident attorney to make sure their rights are protected.