Who is Behind the Wheel of That Big Rig?
If you have travelled in any other state, you may be aware of something particular to New Jersey’s roadways. Percentage wise, New Jersey’s highways have more trucker traffic than any other state. Although there are specific rules and regulations concerning where large trucks may operate, there is a risk of a truck accident. Ever wonder who is behind the wheel of that big rig?
Truckers and Safety Requirements
In order to get behind the wheel of a semi or tractor-trailer, truckers must go undergo extensive training and meet certain safety requirements. These include the following requirements.
Operator licenses are issued according to the size/type of the vehicle. According to the law, New Jersey, commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) are mandated as follows:
- Class A License: Tractor trailer operators, those who drive a truck and trailer combination with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds – provided that the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is more than 10,000 pounds
- Class B License: Necessary for drivers who operate vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, including those towing a trailer with a GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds
- Class C License: Vehicle operators of trucks with a GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds used to transport hazardous material (with mandatory placard)
The United States Department of Transportation also requires that truck drivers do the following:
- Obtain a card showing they are medically fit
- Submit to drug and alcohol screening
- Keep a log concerning hours of service in accordance with the law
- Maintain a safe vehicle
Truck Driver Demographics
According to an article that appeared in Transport Topics, the average trucker is 46 years old and male. Historically, only about five percent of truck drivers are women. Notwithstanding, women are flocking to schools to get them behind the wheel of big rigs. More and more minorities are entering the trucking industry.
Automobile and motorcycle operators may use their vehicle to seek out recreational activities. However, truckers use their rigs exclusively to earn a living. Their size often dictates their place on the road. Many practice defensive driving and offer these tips to avoid an accident involving a truck:
- Do not drive when you are impaired or fatigued
- Change lanes with caution
- Do not follow vehicles too closely
- Use turn signals as appropriate
For the most part, truckers use the center lane. On some roadways, they are not permitted in the left lane and will generally only use it for passing.
Unfortunately, despite the emphasis on safety requirements and defensive driving, accidents do happen. If you are the victim of a truck accident, you will benefit from legal advice. For more than two decades, the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone has handled these types of cases. Contact us for an appointment.