Interstate tractor trailer trailer truck driver qualifications

In representing people in Georgia catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases resulting from tractor trailer / "big rig" crashes, at attorney must understand the rules that trucking companies are required to follow in checking out the background and qualifications of the drivers they entrust with 80,000 pound tractor trailers on the highways.

  1. i. Qualifications of Drivers. 49 C.F.R. § 391.11 requires that a commercial truck driver must be (1) at least 21 years old; (2) able to "read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records;" (3) "Can, by reason of experience, training, or both, safely operate the type of commercial motor vehicle he/she drives; (4) physically qualified; and (4) have a valid Commercial Driver's License (CDL).

  2. ii. Disqualification of drivers. 49 C.F.R. § 391.15 provides that a driver is disqualified by (a) loss of suspension of the CDL; (b) driving a commercial vehicle with blood alcohol 0.04% or more, or under influence of drugs, or refusing to take drug or alcohol test; (c) transporting illegal drugs; (d) leaving scene of an accident;(e) a felony involving use of a commercial vehicle; or (f) violation of an out-of-service order.

  3. iii. Physical qualifications. 49 C.F.R. § 391.41 requires that drivers not have various orthopedic impairments, epilepsy, psychiatric conditions, or high blood pressure that could interfere with operation of a commercial vehicle; insulin dependent diabetes; or specific cardiovascular or respiratory conditions. Drivers must have binocular vision corrected to at least 20/40, with 70 degree horizontal field of vision, ability to recognize colors of traffic signals, and ability to hear a forced whisper at five feet. Drivers may not use medications without the physician being aware of their duties and advising that the medication would not adversely affect ability to operate a commercial vehicle. 49 C.F.R. § 391.43 through 391.47 outline medical examination requirements. About 37% of the FMCSR book deals with alcohol and drug testing procedures. A physician who issues a DOT medical certificate to a driver has no liability to a person injured due to the truck driver's medical condition.