A shortage of qualified truck drivers is plaguing trucking companies throughout the state of Texas. Sometimes, these employers are tempted to relax their hiring policies just to keep enough drivers making deliveries. However, employers who fail to abide by the hiring laws put in place by the state of Texas and the federal government risk facing liability for any accidents that occur with a driver working on behalf of the company.
Texas Hiring Regulations for Employers in the Trucking Industry
To improve highway safety, the federal government and the state of Texas have implemented rules and regulations that hold employers accountable for their hiring decisions. Here are a few requirements that apply to Texas truck driver employers:
Commercial Driver Licenses
In Texas, drivers must have a current commercial driver license (CDL) when operating vehicles that…
- Have a 26,001-pound gross vehicle weight rating.
- Transport hazardous materials in quantities requiring warning signs.
- Transport (or are designed to transport) 16 individuals or more.
Drivers of commercial trucks are also required to exceed the minimum age of 21 years and speak conversational English at a level that enables them to read traffic signs.
Favorable Driving History
Companies are required to evaluate a commercial driver’s driving history prior to making a hiring decision. CDL candidates may be disqualified from employment for driving-history red flags such as:
- Past failure to abide by speed limits and other traffic laws within the past three years.
- Known use of illegal substances.
- A history of driving while drunk.
Medical Clearance to Perform Job Duties
In some cases, a candidate may be required to supply a medical waiver stating that she or he is physically capable of safely operating a commercial vehicle, despite physical impairments that may otherwise disqualify the candidate. Medical conditions that may disqualify a driver include:
- Hearing impairments
- Limited vision
- Insulin use
- Sleep apnea
- Limb impairments
Depending on the nature of a candidate’s medical conflict, he or she may be automatically disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle until after receiving a full evaluation and written clearance by a qualified physician.
What Are the Risks For Drivers of Passenger Vehicles?
In 2014, 11 percent of deaths from motor vehicle crashes involved large trucks. Passenger vehicle occupants were typically the victims in these crashes, accounting for 97% of deaths in two-car crashes involving commercial vehicles in 2014. The risk of deadly truck accidents increases with truck drivers who are hired without meeting the minimum qualifications as required by the law.
Risk factors that can make commercial drivers unsafe for others on the road include:
- Driving while drowsy or failing to adhere to the hours of service requirements designed to ensure that drivers are getting adequate sleep to remain alert and safely operate a vehicle.
- Failure to adhere to traffic laws, such as speed limits, stop lights, and stop signs.
- Use of alcohol or intoxicating drugs.
- Irresponsible driving practices, such as driving too closely to the vehicle ahead on the road, driving with distractions (such as eating, texting or smoking), or failing to adjust the truck’s speed during poor weather conditions.
- Failing to properly maintain the vehicle.
- Failing to update the driver log.
- Failing to wear a seat belt.
What Are the Risks For Employers?
Employers who hire an unqualified driver may be legally liable for accidents that occur while the driver is operating a vehicle on the company’s behalf. In Texas, for instance, a personal injury case may be filed against a company to gain compensation for the medical expenses and damages acquired due to the incident. Employers may be forced to pay large sums to settle these disputes, as well as associated legal fees.
Filing Your Personal Injury Claim
Drivers of passenger vehicles who have been involved in a crash involving a commercial vehicle may be entitled to compensation for injuries and damages if negligence of the driver or the employer can be proven. To investigate the facts of your case, contact our firm today.