Flawed Commercial Driver Licensing System Responsible for Truck Accident Deaths and Injuries

July 12, 2016 | Crandall & Pera Law
Flawed Commercial Driver Licensing System Responsible for Truck Accident Deaths and Injuries

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates interstate commercial vehicles. The agency is responsible for creating and enforcing the guidelines governing commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). The requirements for CDL qualification were overhauled in 2014 to make the screening process more effective. However, the agency is still plagued with problems; a recent CBS investigation revealed flaws in the application process that allow unqualified drivers to remain on the road.

Lying drivers kill innocent victims

CBS reported, “Our investigation found cases where drivers left off dangerous medical conditions from the DOT medical form, which the driver is expected to fill out truthfully. ...Federal regulators don’t track accidents caused by commercial drivers with medical conditions and states do not either. CBS News reached out to 24 states, but only four had detailed medical information on commercial vehicle crashes. A review of those reports found there were nearly 400 commercial vehicle accidents involving medical conditions in 2013 and 2014 alone.”

The American Trucking Association believes that the DOT program needs further reform to keep dangerous drivers off the road. While the regulatory overhaul in 2014 was a step in the right direction, there are countless cases of accidents involving medically unqualified commercial drivers in the news. These cases include:

  • Driver Dwayne Garrett was operating a Greyhound bus on a 90-day medical waiver under suspicion of sleep apnea. Garrett failed to disclose crucial details to his personal physician. After he caused an Ohio crash that injured more than 30 people, a court-ordered sleep test medically disqualified Garrett from holding a CDL.

  • John Ray Carpenter, the owner-operator of a portable toilet service company, was involved in 13 accidents over a 15-year span. Medical records revealed a history of sleep apnea dating to 2001 and multiple instances of improper hours logging, which increases the chances of fatigue. Carpenter somehow evaded technical and medical disqualification until he struck and killed a 31-year-old city employee in a head-on collision.

  • Donald Larson, a school bus driver in Minnesota who jumped a curb and caused more than $160,000 in damages when the bus collided with a home. By a miracle of circumstance, no one was injured during the accident. A pending lawsuit alleges that Larson suffers from a cardiovascular condition that caused the accident.

Flawed program threatens safety

Qualifying for a CDL requires a Medical Examination from a qualifying medical examiner. However, drivers may “self-certify” under certain circumstances. In every case above, the drivers were qualified to self-certify as long as their routes did not cross state lines. The only result of honesty is disqualification and the resulting loss of income. Until the legislation that permits self-certification is changed, unqualified commercial drivers will continue to pose a threat to everyone on the road.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, medical bills and lost wages. The experienced Ohio and Kentucky commercial truck accident lawyers can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you need to get back to normal. Call 877.651.7764 for our Kentucky team, 877.686.8879 for our Ohio team, or contact us today for a free consultation.