After an accident, how do I get records for a truck driver's training and certifications?

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Driving a commercial truck comes with significant responsibilities. Not only are drivers tasked with safely getting expensive cargo from Point A to Point B on time, but they’re also in control of an enormous 80,000-pound vehicle that can reach speeds of 70-80 mph. One mistake while behind the wheel could cause catastrophic injury and death

In order to minimize accidents and keep the roads safe, there are numerous federal and state regulations involving truck driver licensure, training, and certification. Additionally, trucking companies also put safety measures into place to ensure their fleet is in the best hands—and to protect against liability. After a serious collision with a commercial vehicle, a skilled WA truck accident attorney will investigate a series of factors to prove fault. One of the most common is a company uses due diligence to confirm a truck operator’s training and certification. 

We outline truckers’ commercial operator requirements and other required certifications and training, and explain why this information is imperative to your truck accident settlement. Kirkland Truck Accident | Driver Training Certification

CDL Training Requirements In Washington State 

In Washington State, obtaining a Class A commercial driving license (CDL) that allows you to drive full-sized tractor-trailers requires 160 hours of overall instruction, including:

  • 70 hours of combined lab, range, and observation training
  • 40 hours of classroom instruction
  • 18 hours of street driving
  • 16 hours of backing maneuvers
  • 16 hours of proficiency training

Receiving a Class B CDL (for smaller vehicles like box trucks)  or Class C CDL (for carrying 16 passengers or more) requires 80 hours of various forms of instruction. There are also several other types of CDLs available for drivers of passenger buses, school buses, and Hazmat vehicles. 

In addition to the training hours, earning a CDL requires all holders to be 18 years or older, have a valid Washington driver’s license, and complete a knowledge test and a skills test. Drivers must also pass vision and hearing tests. 

It’s important to note that while the operators of smaller vehicles, such as delivery trucks, are only licensed within Washington State, long-haul truck drivers may travel across state lines and received their CDL under the requirements of a different state. 

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Truck Driver Requirements 

In addition to state requirements, there are federal regulations related to driving a truck as well — even if a trucker’s vehicle doesn’t leave the state. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires the following of commercial truck drivers: 

  • Proof of citizenship or lawful residency
  • Proof of a valid driver’s license in one state 
  • A completed driving skill test in a vehicle similar to the one used on the job
  • Proof of residence in the state where the CDL is issued 
  • Education on whistleblower protection, driver wellness, driver qualifications, and legal hours of service 

Truck Company Employee Requirements 

Trucking companies also have extensive requirements for drivers. While these vary by employer and cargo, common stipulations include: 

  • Valid CDL for the vehicle the person will operate 
  • Review of 10 years of driving records 
  • A medical exam that includes blood pressure, blood sugar, and overall fitness to drive
  • Background check 
  • Proof of ability to lift a certain weight 
  • On-the-job training, such as shadowing other drivers 

Who’s Liable for Your Truck Accident Damages? 

It’s a common misconception that a traffic accident is the fault of one driver or the other. In fact, some large truck wrecks are caused by numerous parties, many of which aren’t physically present at the crash like the vehicle operators are. For example, a trucking company may be to blame if it overloaded the vehicle, had a driver work an illegal number of hours, or didn’t investigate a driver properly before hiring them. At Max Meyers Law, our team conducts a thorough investigation to determine if any of the following parties may be at fault:  

  • The trucker 
  • A truck operator’s employer
  • The cargo loading company 
  • A maintenance company or crew 
  • A truck part manufacturer 
  • The owner of the truck cab 
  • The owner of the trailer 

In some cases, a local, county, or state municipality could be liable if inadequate road conditions contributed to the accident.

Truckers Who Should Never be Behind the Wheel 

There are many truck driver training and certifications required to keep everyone safe. When these regulations are ignored or cheated, people can become seriously injured or killed. It’s easy to understand that some truck accidents happen due to reckless driving, driving under the influence, or distracted driving. But some commercial vehicle crashes happen for other reasons including, but not limited to:  

  • A trucker didn’t have a valid CDL
  • They weren’t properly licensed or trained to operate the vehicle involved in the accident
  • A truck operator lied about their license and their company never investigated it
  • An employer didn’t investigate a trucker’s history of driving offenses
  • A truck driver had a medical issue that compromised their abilities 
  • An employer never completed a thorough background check on its driver 

How Max Meyers Investigates Truck Drivers

At Max Meyers Law, we always tell motorists to refrain from taking blame or apologizing after a truck wreck. Why? Because the causes of traffic incidents—especially commercial semi-truck accidents—are more complex than they seem. In fact, the party responsible for economic and non-economic damages in your case, such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even wrongful death, might not even be at the scene of the accident. 

Our legal team is committed to getting to the bottom of your case. That includes investigating the truck driver or drivers to ascertain their licenses, training, and certifications, as well as examining the fleet company’s hiring process and knowledge of the operator’s record. With all of the evidence, we find that the true causes of the crash, and its consequences, become clear.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.