Truck Companies and Driver Training: Quality Sometimes Trumps Quantity

Christopher B. McMahon
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There were 4,503 non-fatal accidents in 2007 involving large trucks and the numbers are on the rise. Hiring skilled drivers and providing the proper safety training is more essential today than at any time in history.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has identified "driver shortage" as a primary concern for the trucking industry. All expect an influx of "new" driver applicants, considering the current state of the economy and the career shifts being made by many displaced workers.

The ATRI recently released a research study which determined that there is no causal link between the length of training a driver's safety performance. However, there is no question that the "quality" of the training is critical.

So what do we do when one of our drivers, new or experienced, has been involved in a personal injury accident with our vehicle? It is common practice to immediately suspend the driver pending investigation. Consultation with legal counsel regarding this decision is also key. When negligence is an issue, more often than not, the truck driver had little experience and, often, insufficient training.

From a legal and business perspective, it may be strongly advisable to terminate the driver from the company. Some considerations should be made for any possibility of a wrongful termination claim and whether the driver is employed at -will. The decision to either retain or terminate that driver could also have long-lasting financial and legal effects on the entire company. Bottom line; the earlier legal advice is obtained, the more likely a positive outcome for the company is achieved.