FMCSA Okaying Inexperienced Truckers To Drive In Teams

If new drivers pose these risks in regular vehicles, imagine how dangerous they are behind the wheel of a semi-truck.

There are plenty of stats to back up the idea that new drivers cause a disproportionately large number of accidents. 

According to data gathered by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the risk of car crashes among new drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 is three times higher than among more experienced drivers. And 75 percent of serious accidents among drivers in this age group are caused by “critical errors” that more experienced drivers tend to catch and correct. 

If new drivers pose these risk in regular vehicles, imagine how dangerous new drivers are behind the wheel of a semi-truck. As any trucker will tell you, driving an 18 wheeler is nothing like driving a car or pickup truck. It requires special training and hours of experience on the road. 

Unfortunately, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is in charge of overseeing the trucking industry, is now allowing new truck drivers to get on the road earlier and with less experience. 

FMCSA Says New Truckers Can Drive in Teams

The federal government has hundreds of rules in place that dictate how trucking companies and their drivers must behave on the road. In some cases, however, the FMCSA grants exemptions that allow carriers and truck drivers to bend the rules.

In June 2017, the FMCSA announced that it will allow New Prime, a national trucking carrier company, to allow pre-CDL drivers to drive in “team operations.” 

This means that New Prime can put individuals who do not yet possess a commercial driver’s license (CDL) behind the wheel of a semi in a team operation. 

According to media reports, these new drivers must have passed the CDL skills test, but they don’t actually need to possess a CDL. Reports also state that the exemption requires a CDL-holder to be in the truck, but the CDL-holder doesn’t have to be in the front seat.

It might come as a surprise to learn that the Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association, which is a national pro-trucking group, actually opposes the FMCSA’s exemption. 

Furthermore, this isn’t the first time the FMCSA has granted such an exemption. In June 2017, it also granted a similar exemption to C.R. England, another major national carrier company.  

Texas truck accident lawyer Amy Witherite states: “As any experienced motorist knows, it takes time to get comfortable behind the wheel. As you get more experienced on the road, you encounter situations that require skill and quick thinking. Understandably, many people are upset by the FMCSA’s decision to allow inexperienced truckers to drive without a CDL.”  

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