With the increasing demand for truck drivers, there is concern that companies will use negligent hiring practices to fill the gap resulting in more serious and fatal truck accidents.
Who is driving the truck? Employers may not know
In 2021, government safety investigators found about 42,000 drivers who were operating trucks without Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDLs). While the details of each case are not known, it is safe to assume that proper vetting was not done. These were very likely negligent hires.
What is a "negligent hire"?
In the trucking and transportation industry, negligent hiring refers to hiring drivers without conducting thorough background checks or overlooking past violations and crashes. Knowingly or carelessly hiring unqualified people to drive commercial trucks violates many federal and state laws, regulations, and standards. And it puts everyone on the road at an increased risk of getting into a severe or fatal truck accident.
This is a concern, especially in Texas. The state has the highest employment level in heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas companies employ about 210,940 truckers. Metros with the highest concentration of employment include Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land. Meanwhile, Laredo, Midland, and Odessa have a lot of jobs for truckers, too.
Proper vetting of new truckers can save lives.
The link between past behavior and future accidents
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has conducted extensive research on truck accidents for years. Their 2022 update reinforces a critical finding – a strong link between unsafe driver behaviors and future crashes. Behaviors such as failure to use turn signals, right-of-way violations, and erratic lane changes are key predictors of truck accidents. Statistically speaking:
- Reckless driving violations increased risk by 114%.
- Truckers previously in crashes are between 88% and 113% more likely to be involved in another accident.
- A failure-to-use-turn-signals violation raises the likelihood of future crashes by 85%.
- Improper or erratic lane changes drove risk up 79%.
Background checks and screenings for truckers
To legally hire a truck driver in Texas, employers must check a driver's qualifications during licensing, hiring, and license renewals. They must check the Commercial Drivers' License Information System (CDLIS) and the National Driver Registry (NDR) for disqualifications in the past 10 years.
Other areas that should typically be investigated before a trucking company hires a new driver include:
- License, certificates, and endorsements status. Depending on the circumstances, a truck driver may have a temporarily or permanently disqualified CDL.
- Criminal background check. Convictions of some felony charges can disqualify a driver from operating a large truck or other commercial vehicle.
- Motor vehicle crash and violations report from each state where a driver has been licensed.
- Drug, alcohol, and medical screenings.
Negligent hiring practices can have devastating consequences
The strong link between unsafe driver behaviors and truck wrecks underscores the importance of responsible driver qualification processes. Trucking companies must prioritize safety and thoroughly vet potential drivers to ensure they meet all necessary qualifications.
At Tracey Fox & Walters, our legal team is well-versed in the complexities of truck accident cases and the unique challenges they present. Our experienced truck accident lawyers are dedicated to helping victims and their families seek the accountability and justice they deserve.
We work tirelessly to investigate the cause of the accident, identify liable parties, and build a strong case to pursue maximum compensation for our clients. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Texas truck accident, contact us today for a free case evaluation. We have offices in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.