Commercial Drivers’ License Requirements: Employer Responsibilities

Tim Miley
Injury Lawyer, Author, & Owner of The Miley Legal Group

It takes a great deal of training and skill to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Employers in Clarksburg have a responsibility to ensure their drivers meet commercial drivers' license requirements. These issues may come into play after an accident.

What is the employer's responsibility regarding truck driver training requirements?

One of the responsibilities of an employer is ensuring the driver has a valid license. Most get their commercial driver’s license (CDL) in their home state. Special classifications, endorsements and restrictions may apply.

For instance, drivers operating a truck that carries hazardous materials must get a proper endorsement. Drivers operating a single vehicle with a gross weight rating of 26,001 pounds must have a Class B license. In West Virginia, restrictions apply for intrastate driving. An employer must ensure his/her employee has met all CDL requirements.

Another responsibility is ensuring the driver has passed a pre-employment test for controlled substances. Also, the employer must include the appropriate documentation in the driver qualification file such as driving history, medical exam and other applicable information.

Are there special training requirements for entry-level drivers?

An entry-level driver is one with less than a year's experience driving a commercial motor vehicle with a CDL. And yes, before hitting the road, the driver must receive specific training.

This includes general requirements to operate a commercial vehicle, as well as rules regarding medical certificates. Other topics should include the driver's responsibilities regarding securing cargo and other procedures when operating a commercial vehicle. The training should cover disqualifications as well.

Hours of service rules: drivers should receive training on the hours of service rules. These pertain to limitations in the amount of driving hours and periods of time the driver is off-duty. Drivers learn how to prepare the record of duty status. They also learn how to combat fatigue, which might otherwise contribute to an accident.

Health and wellness are also very important and drivers receive training on:

  • exercise;
  • proper diet;
  • avoiding stress; and
  • alcohol use.

Finally, drivers should be made aware of protections for whistleblowers and those who bring safety concerns to their employer's attention.

How could training requirements or employer responsibilities factor into a truck accident case?

When someone gets into an accident with another car, concerns usually surround two main issues. One is if the other driver has auto insurance to pay for damages. Another important factor is proving the other driver caused the crash.

But with an accident involving a truck, there can be more to it than just a violation of traffic laws. It's possible that the employer failed to follow through on his/her responsibilities. For instance, the trucking company might have allowed a driver who failed a drug test to get behind the wheel.

If the driver wasn't properly trained, this can also impact a truck accident case. These associated factors that go beyond the simple cause of the accident may help accident victims build a case against the trucking company based on its own negligence.

Do I need an attorney after a truck accident?

Unless it was a minor accident with no injuries, you may need legal counsel to bring a claim or lawsuit against the truck driver's employer. Because traffic laws aren't the only issue, it's important to seek help from an attorney who is familiar with truck accidents. Your lawyer can perform an investigation that may uncover federal violations and other contributing factors. If necessary, an attorney can request records from the employer via a spoliation letter, such as the driver qualification file.

Speak with an attorney at the Miley Legal Group in Clarksburg to discuss your accident and legal options available to you. Call 304-931-4088.