When it comes to driving a big truck, there is a lot of responsibility that comes with getting behind that wheel. Large trucks, or heavy trucks, include:

  • Dump trucks
  • Garbage trucks
  • Refrigerator trucks
  • Tractor unit (used to haul semi-trailers)
  • Tankers
  • Log carriers

These types of vehicles can weigh between 26,001 to over 33,000 pounds. Semi-trucks, in particular, can weight 80,000 pounds carried over 18 wheels. These longer vehicles have much larger blind spots than a regular car or truck, and to help the driver, there are special mirrors installed for improved vision. It’s important to remember though, that blind spots still exist for several feet around the trailer.

Training to Drive a Semi-truck

To drive a vehicle of this size, and to legally haul cargo within the US, truck drivers must undergo a series of tests. They must also maintain certain training requirements and pass a physical exam every two years so they can help ensure the roads stay safe for everyone. They must also continue to keep a clean driving record, as serious traffic violations can affect their ability to keep their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains training standards that must be met by all drivers to earn and keep their CDL. The driver must pass a knowledge test and a driving skills test within their home state, and if the driver wants to carry special loads, there are other endorsements they must earn. This can apply to:

  • Driving a truck with double or triple trailers, or a tank
  • Carrying hazardous materials
  • Driving passengers

Rules on the Road

More stringent rules apply to driving big trucks as compared to driving a normal vehicle. For example, truck drivers cannot carry alcohol with them unless it is their cargo. They also have strict hours of service regulations that they must abide by and keep a digital log of hours driven and breaks taken, which any government official can check at any time.

The hours of service rules vary depending on whether the driver is transporting cargo or passengers, but they are stricter for carrying passengers. For each day the driver is on the clock hauling property:

  • They can only be on the clock for 14 hours, only 11 of which can be spent driving.
  • Once a driver has reached 8 hours of driving, they must clock in a 30-minute break.
  • They cannot drive beyond 60/70 hours on duty after working 7/8 days in a row.

Accidents Happen

While the FMCSA works to put laws into place that help keep everyone safer, drivers are ultimately responsible for what happens on the road and unexpected things do happen. If you or a loved one has been in an accident with a large truck that you suspect was their fault, contact a truck accident lawyer, to assist you in making a claim and receiving the compensation you rightfully deserve.