Do New Truck Drivers have to be Trained?
It takes a lot of concentration and effort to drive a vehicle that weighs several thousand tons down the road. Imagine if you had to drive a vehicle that had large blind spots, was not very maneuverable, and could take the length of two football fields to come to a complete stop. Imagine if you had to drive that vehicle across damaged roads and through bumper to bumper traffic. This is the challenge that most truck drivers face on a daily basis. It is clear why there are accidents in the trucking industry. However, what about those truckers who are not seasoned professionals, but are just learning how to drive a tractor-trailer or other commercial vehicle for the first time.
Drivers license Requirements in Pennsylvania
You probably remember when you were a teenager and were preparing to take your driving test. You may even remember drivers education classes from high school and even remember some of the little tricks and sayings that your teacher used when they were teaching you how to drive. For many getting their drivers licenses is a big achievement. It is one of the first steps that many young adults take towards freedom.
In Pennsylvania, there are different steps that a driver will take when they are getting their first drivers license.
A driver will have their junior learner’s permit when they are 16 years old. If they hold this junior driver’s license for six months without any indications that they should not have a graduated license they will be granted a junior driver’s license which is also known as a provisional drivers license. Finally, a driver in Pennsylvania is entitled to a Senior Driver’s License if they are at least seventeen and a half years old and they have completed an approved driver’s education course and held a junior drivers license for at least one year and have no had any accidents or convictions. Alternatively, a person may get their senior driver’s license in Pennsylvania if they are eighteen years old or older regardless if they have not taken a driver’s education course. In addition, before a person is granted the privilege to drive in Pennsylvania, they will have to do all of the following according to the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Submit a completed Application for Pennsylvania Non-Commercial Driver’s License by Out-of-State Non CDL Driver (Form DL-180OR).
- Surrender your out-of-state driver’s license.
- Prove your identity and PA residency.
- Show your Social Security card.
- Pass a vision test.
- Pass the written knowledge test, if your driver’s license is not valid or expired more than 6 months ago.
- Pay the $30.50 fee with check or money order payable to “PennDOT.”
It may seem that there are a lot of so-called hurdles to cross and jump when it comes to getting a driver’s license. However, when you are driving a vehicle that weighs several thousand pounds and can travel at very high speeds it is important to protect not only the drivers who may put themselves in danger without proper training and education but also to protect those drivers on the road.
Truck Driver License Requirements
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recognized that there is a difference between driving a standard passenger car and driving a tractor-trailer. They noted that driving a commercial motor vehicle requires a higher level of knowledge, experience, skills, and physical abilities. Therefore they implemented their own separate licensing requirement and instituted what is known a Commercial Driver’s License. In order for a person to be entitled to drive a commercial vehicle, they need to pass both a skills and knowledge test. This test is geared to ensure that a driver is qualified to drive a vehicle that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
There are various steps that a person who is interested in joining the trucking industry must complete before they are entitled to drive a commercial vehicle on public roads. These are in addition to medical requirements and knowledge and skill requirements, which will be discussed below.
To begin, an applicant needs to obtain a copy of the Commercial Driver’s Licensing Manual in the state where the applicant lives. Next, the applicant will have to decide what type of vehicle they would like to drive because there are different requirements for the three different classes of Commercial Driver’s Licenses:
Pursuant to Federal standards, States issue CDLs and CLPs to drivers according to the following license classifications:
- Class A: Any combination of vehicles which has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more) whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) whichever is greater.
- Class B: Any single vehicle which has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 11,794 or more kilograms (26,001 pounds or more), or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight that does not exceed 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds).
- Class C: Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is transporting material that has been designated as hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and is required to be placarded under subpart F of 49 CFR Part 172 or is transporting any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR Part 73.
Each of the three-Commercial Driver’s Licenses come with endorsements with specialized qualifications for certain vehicles. For example, one type of Commercial Driver’s License may cover vehicles such as school buses, while another might cover tanker trucks and tractor-trailers. It is important that the drivers understand that there are different skills and sometimes different written tests that an applicant may have to take.
After the applicant has engaged in their part of the process they will then apply for a commercial learner’s permit. This type of permit is one that allows an applicant to practice driving a commercial vehicle on public roads. However, this is a learner’s permit and it is important that a driver who holds a commercial learner’s permit only drive a vehicle when they have a qualified and licensed driver who holds a Commercial Driver’s License sitting next to them. However, in order for an applicant to obtain even this provisional license, they will need to demonstrate that their driving record is not suspect and will require that it is checked in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. In addition, most states requires that an applicant a medical test conducted, and if they are qualified will be issued a Department of Transportation medical card.
Next, an applicant will be able to take the commercial driving test after they have had their commercial learner’s permit for at least fourteen days. However, this varies from state to state and there are different requirements and tests that may be employed by each of the states. Before an applicant will be given their Commercial Driver’s License they will be required to pass the skills test, which consists of three parts. In order for an applicant to receive their Commercial Driver’s License, they will need to demonstrate in a skills test that they can pass the Vehicle Inspection Test, the Basic Controls test, and the Road test.
Drivers are required to obtain and hold a Commercial Driver’s License if they operate in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce. If a driver is caught driving a commercial vehicle without a Commercial Driver’s License, then they can be subject to a large fine. However, oftentimes people are not aware that the driver of the semi-truck next to them is not qualified to drive that vehicle until they are involved in an accident.
CONTACT OUR PENNSYLVANIA TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYERS TODAY
To schedule a private, no-cost evaluation, call our a truck accident attorney at (215) 709-6940 or contact us online. If the statute of limitations expires, your window of legal opportunity will close and you won’t be able to pursue a claim.