Since 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been talking about a pilot trucking program that will allow drivers between 18 and 20 years old to haul heavy cargo in 18-wheelers. If this program is approved, it would lower the age of eligible truck drivers and possibly lead to an increase of truck drivers. Advocates have said this would be great for the trucking industry, which is currently experiencing a shortage.
And it seems that the time is officially now. FMCSA is now officially accepting applications for the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program, which was included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law last November. For drivers to qualify for this program, they would be eligible under the following conditions:
To participate in the program, an apprentice driver must be 18, 19 or 20 years old, have a commercial driver’s license, and be employed by an approved carrier.
The apprentice driver must complete two probationary periods with an experienced driver. That experienced driver must be at least 26 years old with five years of experience in interstate commerce and have no moving violations or preventable accidents in the past two years.
The first probationary period must include 120 hours on-duty, and at least 80 hours of driving, while the second covers 280 hours on duty and at least 160 hours of driving.
Apprentice drivers are prohibited from driving commercial vehicles with passengers, hazardous materials and special configurations. In addition, apprentices are not allowed to operate a commercial vehicle weighing more than 80,000 pounds.
The FMCSA hopes to use the program to determine how underage drivers would perform if they’re able to cross state lines. Currently, drivers under the age of 21 are not allowed to haul cargo or travel outside of state lines. That means that younger truckers would be allowed to haul cargo within Arizona, for example, but would be limited if they were traveling outside of Arizona.
Safety issues with teen drivers
If this program being approved concerns you, it should. While it would be a great opportunity for 18–to–20 year old drivers, we all know the risks that teen drivers take. It is known that teen drivers are more likely to engage in all sorts of reckless driving activities.
Teen drivers are more likely to ignore safety procedures like simply putting on their seat belts. They are also more likely to become easily distracted while driving. All of these issues can increase the chances of serious car accidents.
Opponents of the long-haul trucking program have expressed their concerns about the program to the FMCSA. The public letter contained some alarming statistics about teen drivers who operate commercial vehicles. It was revealed that teen drivers younger than 19 who operate CMVs are four times more likely to be involved in fatal truck accidents.
One of the main reasons is because these drivers are inexperienced and more likely to take risks. For CMV drivers between the ages of 19 and 20, the statistics are even worse. This group of drivers is six times more likely to be involved in a fatal truck accident.
If you’re injured in a Phoenix truck accident
When you have been hurt in a truck accident, several parties can be held liable. Filing a truck accident claim can help you recover the compensation that you need for your damages. When you file your claim, you have the option of either seeking your compensation through a settlement or a lawsuit. While you are never legally required to hire an attorney, working with one is typically in your best interest, as trucking accident cases are complex. There are often multiple liable parties, and collisions tend to lead to catastrophic injury.
When you work with a Phoenix truck accident lawyer from our firm, we can discuss your best options. No matter which way you choose to go, your case begins with documenting the truck driver’s negligence, to show he or she caused the accident and your injuries. Photographic evidence, witness testimony, video evidence, and copies of police reports are all helpful. This collection of evidence should be able to paint a picture of how the driver or trucking company’s negligence caused you harm.
The next step of your claim is the demand letter. This is the step where you share your demands with the insurance company (or companies). Your attorney specifically states how the truck driver’s actions have affected you and what you expect to be compensated.
Once the insurance company reads your demand letter, you two will have a chance to reach a settlement. Before offering a settlement, the insurance company will evaluate your evidence and determine whether to accept your demands or not. Your attorney handles all negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf until you are satisfied with the result.
But if you’re not satisfied, or if the insurance company refuses to budge from a lowball offer, then a jury trial may be your best option. We prepare every case for this possibility from the start, so that if a trial is best for you, we are ready for it. We have decades of experience in complex litigation matters. It’s important to understand that there is never a guarantee with a jury trial – not the way a settlement amount would be guaranteed – so this is a big decision. On the other hand, once you accept a settlement award, you cannot go back and renegotiate. If you are living with permanent injuries, like brain trauma or paralysis, you should not have to put your hands in your own pocket for your care when someone else’s negligence is to blame. We can discuss all of these issues during your free consultation.
At Plattner Verderame, P.C., our truck accident lawyers are ready and willing to help you fight for the compensation to which you are entitled. We represent injured victims in Phoenix and Tempe and thrive on taking the most complex cases. Call our office today at 602-266-2002, or submit our contact form to schedule your free consultation. We handle cases on a contingency fee basis.
I have been active in leadership in the Arizona Association for Justice (lawyers who represent injured folks, and formerly known as the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association) since 1985. I served as President in 1991. I was an active participant in battles to protect the Arizona Constitution from the insurance industry and big business interests in 1986, 1990 and 1994.
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