Requirements Checklist for Becoming a Licensed Truck Driver
Every career field has its ups and downs. Being a truck driver is fascinating for some people and it offers a steady source of income with lots of bonuses. But accidents make this job very dangerous. It is therefore highly important for all drivers to know the road safety measures on how to avoid accidents.
If you are intending to become a truck driver, you must know all the requirements by your state and meet them first, before you can drive a commercial truck. Meeting the standards of a qualified truck driver lowers the chances of you getting into accidents over your career as a truck driver. But in case you get into one, always consult a personal injury lawyer to help you out.
There are three general types of trucks; a bus, a tanker and a cargo truck. Choose the kind of truck you would like to drive and set out to meet the following requirements.
In most states, the minimum age for one to become a truck driver is 21 years. Although you might be ambitious and eager to do a job that you are passionate about, it is advisable to wait until you qualify. Due to the risk involved in this job, more mature adults are preferred since they can make better judgments when need be.
Be in good health and free of drugs
Truck driving involves long distances in most cases and at times the trucks ferry delicate goods. For a company to hire a driver, they need to be assured that their goods will be in good hands as well as the truck. Although you may have reached minimum age with a clean criminal record, staying of the drugs will lower the chances of you getting into accidents. This increases your chances of being given bonuses as the driver.
Get a commercial learners permit (CLP)
The tests here are more than just skill test and physical fitness. They also go further to check the records and see if you have been involved in a driving irregularity. The record is checked against all states. To pass this test, you need proof that you have clean medical record. You will require a DOT referee and proof of residency. The more the rules, the safer it becomes.
Attend a truck driving school
A driving school does more than just equip you with driving skills and safety precautions. It also teaches you all the laws and regulations that govern driving. Considering you are taking driving classes for bigger vehicles, it is recommended to enroll in the best school in your neighborhood. Some schools teach for even a whole year while others teach for a month. It is important to learn both theory and practical while still at school.
Pass the CDL examination
Although different states have different methods of administering the Commercial Driving License exam, the exam comes in two parts; the written part and hands-on test on the road. It is through these two tests that the licensed examiner will know how well you have understood the laws that govern driving and public safety as well as how good you have mastered the driving skill.
Complete your high school education
It may not be a requirement by all companies looking for drivers, but it is a plus. With the high school diploma, you have a chance to get a better paying job with bonuses. You will also have easy time comprehending and grasping the concepts when they are taught during your driving lessons.
Pass the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation exam too
This exam covers the federal traffic laws. It includes a written test and a physical test. A physical test determines how well a person can see under different situations, say in foggy weather or when there is smoke. It also determines how good a person can hear different sounds. The written exam is taken once but the physical one is taken after every two years. This ensures that the person is still able to hear clearly and that the eyesight is good.
Even with a qualified driver and a well serviced vehicle, accidents still happen. When this happens, it is important to know what to do as a driver; being the person who is involved in the accident. Here is a list of some of the most immediate responses.
- Contacting the police–although you might not be the one on the wrong side, it is important to let the legal matters be handled by the experts. It is advisable to say the least possible information to avoid self-incrimination.
- Call for an ambulance-if you are lucky to have survived the accident and are able to move your hands, immediately dial the emergency numbers and request for an ambulance. If you can manage to move, then get away from the truck, it may explode.
- Contact your personal injury law firm– it is vital to be legally represented by a good legal representative who will ensure that you are properly compensated if you were on the right side. Even when you are on the wrong side of the law, the lawyer will defend you and protect you from being exploited unfairly.
- Contact the insurance companyor the owner of the vehicle- insurance companies often act very tough when processing claims and compensation. It is good to call them as soon as the accident occurs so they can gain the required knowledge for processing your claims.
It is always better to be safe than sorry. The time of an accident is unpredictable and so is the effect. Drivers and pedestrians alike are advised to be alert all time. They need to be aware of the safety precautions and be well equipped with road safety practices. For drivers, specifically truck drivers, knowing the following things will decrease the chances of you being involved in an accident;
Lower the speed as you negotiate sharp bends
The speed signs can be available and at time not there at all. In some places, the road signs are vandalized. It is thus the duty of the driver to be very observant. If you are approaching a sharp corner, lower the speed, even lower than what the speed sign says. The speed signs work well with small cars but a truck needs a lower speed owing to its size or else it slips.
Regular maintenance and pre-trip inspections of the truck
Some drivers may say that it is the duty of the company to take care of a truck, forgetting that a poorly maintained track will put the life of the driver and other road users at risk. It is thus mandatory for drivers to take their trucks for regular checkups. And even with professional checkup and maintenance, a driver should take his time to always inspect the vehicle before commencing.
Failure to do the inspections can get the driver in trouble with the law when law enforcement agents from the department of transportation pull up the driver and finds out that the car was not inspected. This reflects poorly on the license and the driver’s record, making it hard to find a job in future in the same line.
Maintaining good mental and physical health
Some employers don’t give their drivers enough time to rest. Most drivers drive while extremely tired and not to mention sleepy. One is free to pull over the vehicle and get a nap when in need. Ignoring the fact that you are sleepy can lead to a fatal accident when you fall asleep on the wheel. When you have time off, go out and jog or take a walk in the park to relax your muscles.
Mobile devices have been viewed as the biggest cause of distraction because today people turn to their phones for all sorts of reasons. Some use the phone as watches, others to monitor their kids or house, and of course many of them for texting. If you must use your phone, pull over. It will only take a minute.
Even with the Bluetooth and other form of wireless gadgets that are hands free, there is still a high risk of distraction. As long as the mind is forced to think of something else, only the driver’s body is left controlling the car. The kind of information received during a phone call can be unexpected and may cause the driver to literally freeze for a moment. The importance of avoiding distractions cannot be emphasized further.
Use the signals well
Using the signals well involves giving the right signals to other drivers on the road and interpreting the signals they send back to you appropriately. If you are new in a state and someone gives you a strange signal, do not proceed without fully understanding the meaning. You may cause a head-on collision. This can happen especially if language is a barrier between different drives. And always remember, having the contacts of top personal injury lawyers who operate in several states can always help you even when you get into accidents in a new state.
Be aware of the weather forecast
Knowing the weather and if it is going to rain at a given time or it will be snowing in a given region is not enough, the knowledge helps the driver take the precautionary measures that come with bad weather. During such time, you are advised to go at a lower speed and keep a safe distance between the vehicles while on the road.
Filling the fuel tank to the brim is also recommended to avoid condensation of water inside the tank. Carrying tire chains is yet another must do thing when there is snow. All this lowers the chances of getting into an accident and thus gives you more peace of mind knowing that your rating as a truck driver will remain unharmed.
Observe the parking guidelines
The journey is at times too long, forcing you to pull over on a busy highway. If you must pull over, do it on a long stretch of the road away from sharp corners and bends. Either way, you must use the reflector triangles and flashlight signaling to alert other motorists. On busy streets, it is not recommended to park a big trailer or truck because it will obscure the view of other drivers especially the ones driving smaller vehicles. Always search for the designated truck parking slots to ensure you have safely parked.
When the inevitable happens, it is firms like Schechter McElwee Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P that come to your rescue. They cover all kinds of cases involving injury to the driver, the vehicle and any other third party that may have been involved in the accident. Using their personal injury attorney or car accident lawyer, the needs of the people involved are well represented.
A trucking career as a driver is fun and exciting. With all those mentioned requirements, you will be well on your way to a fulfilling and rewarding career. But remember to always consult professional lawyers and work closely with them to secure your career’s future.