You’ve been hit by a tractor trailer.  How do you know whether the tractor trailer driver was qualified?

If your vehicle has ever been hit by a tractor trailer, you may wonder whether the driver of the tractor trailer was even qualified to be driving a large truck in the first place.  Federal regulations require trucking companies to get certain background information on drivers before they hire them.  Here’s how trucking companies determine if a driver is qualified:

Minimum Qualifications

According to federal regulations, a tractor trailer driver may be qualified to operate a commercial vehicle if the driver is:

  • at least 21 years old
  • can read and understand English
  • has enough experience or training to safely operate a commercial vehicle
  • has the physical capacity to safely operate a commercial vehicle
  • has completed a driver’s application listing any and all prior moving violations and accidents
  • has a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or has successfully completed a road test

Background Checks and Moving Violations

Most states have adopted federal regulations that require trucking companies to use background checks to thoroughly investigate their drivers.  Under these regulations, a driver who applies for a job with a trucking company has to complete an application which lists all moving violations in the past 3 years and also listing all trucking companies he/she has worked for in the past 10 years.

After a trucking company hires a driver, the company must contact each of the driver’s former employers within 30 days.  Federal regulations require that trucking companies get employment verification, a list of all accidents, and alcohol or controlled substance violations from each of the previous trucking employers.  The prior employers are required to provide this information.  The company also has to obtain a moving violations report (MVR) from all states where the driver has held a license in the last 3 years.

Road Test

In addition to all the required background checks, trucking companies must all have all new drivers take road tests to determine their ability to operate a commercial vehicle.  Or, if the driver has a CDL (commercial drivers license) which requires him or her to pass a road test as part of its licensure requirements, a driving test may not be needed.  The road test examines a driver’s skill level in these areas:

  • performing pre-trip inspections
  • operating the commercial vehicle in traffic
  • using controls and emergency equipment
  • turning the vehicle
  • braking and slowing the vehicle
  • backing and parking the vehicle


A commercial vehicle driver can be disqualified for certain time periods for having serious traffic violations.  A driver can be disqualified for a period of 60 days for a 2nd conviction (or a combination of 2 offenses) within a 3 year period for the following:

  • speeding in excess of 15 mph over the speed limit
  • driving recklessly
  • making erratic or improper lane changes
  • following another vehicle too closely
  • violating a vehicular law which causes a fatal accident
  • texting while driving
  • driving a commercial vehicle without a CDL

If a driver is convicted of DUI/DWI or leaving the scene of an accident while driving any type of vehicle (even non-commercial), that driver can lose his license for a year.

Even though this list is not exhaustive, these are some of the qualifications and disqualifications for a tractor trailer driver.

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a large truck or tractor trailer, you might be contacted by the trucking company’s insurance representative very quickly.  Sometimes, insurance companies will try to call you as soon as the day after the accident.  Before you talk to any insurance company, you should get the advice of an experienced truck accident lawyer.  Most lawyers will give you a free consultation to talk about what you might be entitled to receive.  At the Ritchie Law Firm, you can talk to an experienced truck accident lawyer for free . . . NO STRINGS ATTACHED!!

Whether the insurance company contacts you quickly or not, the faster you seek legal advice from a lawyer who knows truck accidents, the better.  With a tractor trailer crash, prompt investigation is critical to successfully recovering money damages in your case.  Because accidents involving tractor trailers are devastating, making sure that things like skid mark measurements and impact marks are preserved are often essential to a good recovery.

Experienced Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyers

The five lawyers at the Ritchie Law Firm have more 145 years of combined experienced handling truck accident cases.  See our tractor trailer accident Case Results here.  Throughout the nearly half century history of the Ritchie Law Firm, our lawyers have handled thousands of devastating crash cases involving serious and complex injuries such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, internal organ damage, multiple bone fractures, and even death.

You should not have to bear the financial burden of a wreck that was caused by a negligent truck driver.  Accidents involving tractor trailers are devastating. At the Ritchie Law Firm, we can help you hold the other driver accountable and help you get the compensation you need to pay your bills and recover.

Talk with a Virginia and West Virginia Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries in a truck or tractor trailer accident in Virginia, Ritchie Law Firm is here to help.  The experienced, certified attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm has helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve after an accident.

Choose wisely. . . you can talk to us for FREE

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Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.


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