Many truckers who are involved in commercial motor vehicle accidents have a history of dangerous driving behaviors. These behaviors include driving while fatigued, driving aggressively, and driving while intoxicated. When truck companies hire or retain drivers with dangerous driving histories, they negligently place the public at risk of serious injury or death.
Dangerous Driving Behaviors
Driving too fast for conditions is a common dangerous behavior for truck drivers. When rain, snow, ice, traffic, or road construction are present, drivers have a duty of care to slow down.
Aggressive driving is another common behavior for commercial vehicle drivers. These behaviors include tailgating, speeding, swerving, and failing to signal. Often, drivers who engage in these behaviors have a history of traffic citations for these offenses.
Less than 1% of commercial motor vehicle accidents involve alcohol consumption. However, many of these drivers have a history of alcoholism that should have disqualified them from operating a large truck. Similarly, the use of illegal narcotics is rare, but when it contributes to a crash, it’s often discovered the driver has a long history of substance abuse.
Other common trucker violations include failing to maintain the vehicle failing to maintain accurate hours of service logs, and failing to adhere to state and federal regulations regarding vehicle inspections.
Truck Company Liability
Trucking companies have a responsibility to the public to ensure that the drivers they hire don’t have a history of dangerous driving behaviors. They are also required to properly train their drivers in the safe handling of their vehicles. Further, when drivers do engage in dangerous behaviors, trucking company operators have a duty to suspend or terminate the driver’s employment. In Illinois, the laws are clear regarding trucking company liability for negligent hiring, training, and retention of large vehicle operators.
Conversely, many commercial motor vehicle drivers are owner/operators. When they cause a large truck accident, they bear sole liability for the injuries, property damage, and wrongful deaths they cause.
The US Department of Transportation can declare trucking companies or their drivers to be imminent hazards. This means their history of negligent behaviors puts the public at risk of injury or death. When USDoT declares an individual or company to be an imminent threat to the public, they have the authority to order them to cease operations.