There are approximately ten (10) commercial truck driving schools in South Carolina. Several are part of technical colleges, but the largest and most established trucking schools boasts that they can “put you in the driver’s seat” in as little as “15 days.” They further advertise that “3 weeks really CAN change your life.” Because long haul truck drivers cross state lines, you must be at least twenty-one (21) years old to get a Commercial Drivers License (CDL). We all know how young and irresponsible many 21 year olds are at that tender age. Nevertheless, given the above minimum requirements, you can be just 21 years old and start driving a tractor-trailer rig on the interstate highways after just 3 weeks of “training.” And, of course, those 15 days do not involve actual driving the entire time. There is also classroom instruction and written testing. So, in truth, it is really just a matter of hours “behind the wheel” and actually driving a large vehicle that weighs in excess of 26,000 pounds. Sadly, without proper and extensive initial training, those “3 weeks really CAN change (many lives),” or end them.
So what is involved in truck driving school? Typically, young students and future drivers receive one (1) week of classroom instruction followed by two (2) weeks of “on the road” driving. That’s right, after just a single week, students are put on the highway. In just five (5) days, they are instructed for the first time in their lives about “safety procedures, log requirements, and mechanical operations.” And remember, no prior courses or pre-requisite training is involved. You don’t even have to have a high school diploma to enroll. Then, they move to actually driving a “big rig.” At this stage, they learn how to perform “pre-trip inspections and maneuver a tractor trailer” on the interstate and in towns and cities. Surely, you would think more would be required. But there is not. There are many well known trucking companies that actively recruit and hire new drivers “right out of school.” Some companies will provide some additional training or have new drivers “ride with more experienced truckers.” But not all companies can afford this additional expense. As a result, new drivers with the least imaginable training are on the interstates with our families moving heavy, or even hazardous materials, cargo at 60 miles per hour.
We all know the destructive power of this much weight in motion can cause. A fully loaded tractor trailer can take as long as a football field to come to a halt. And nothing, except another rig of similar size and weight, can stop it. Everything else in its path is destroyed. This is where you hear about interstate crashes involving multiple cars with serious injuries and death. It is simple physics at that point. Large trucking company lobbies fight hard to prevent common sense federal regulations involving their industry. The companies complain about fuel prices and that more regulations will “hurt their businesses.” The last thing about which they seem concerned is public safety. It almost seems that a certain percentage of accidents and personal injury is to be expected and is a “cost of doing business.” Where the government fails to act, experienced tractor trailer accident attorneys can hold irresponsible trucking companies accountable for their dangerous practices. We hope and pray you will never need us. But if you or your family is involved in a serious tractor trailer accident, we are here to help. Carefully review our lawyers’ credentials and then call us for a private, personal consultation. Reeves Aiken & Hightower LLP 803-554-4157 directly or 877-374-5999 toll free