Maryland Commercial Trucking Rules/Regulations - Truck Driver License (CDL)
Two-car and multi-vehicle accidents can be quite serious, without a doubt. In fact, even a seemingly simple single-vehicle crash has the potential to cause any number of serious or even critical injuries to the occupants of a passenger vehicle. Ranging from minor bruising and other superficial skin abrasions to bone fractures and internal bleeding, victims of most any significant traffic accident can find themselves in an emergency room very quickly. But introduce other, more significant factors, like high vehicle speeds, angle of impact and weight disparity between the motor vehicles involved and you have a recipe for potentially life-threatening injuries.
As Baltimore personal injury attorneys, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, is cognizant of the opportunities for severe bodily injury with almost any roadway accident scenario. However, our years of handling automobile injury cases tell us that some of the more serious and sometimes deadly highway accidents involve impacts between commercial trucks and passenger cars. In situations where these two vastly different types of motor vehicles come together on the street, the possibility for extensive injuries and even death can be a distinct possibility.
Understanding as we do that even a basic two-car collision in a city such as Annapolis or Washington, D.C., can result in life-threatening outcomes, our expertise in handling commercial trucking-related roadway collisions includes an appreciation for the high cost of medical care after the fact. Whether an auto-truck wreck occurs due to defective tire retread on a box truck or poorly maintained brakes on an 18-wheeler, the resulting injuries can put a victim in the hospital for days or weeks; sometimes even months, depending on the extent of the victim’s injuries.
As Baltimore injury lawyers handling car, truck and motorcycle injury cases, our staff has the experience to file personal injury lawsuits and litigate those cases in courtrooms all around Maryland and in the District of Columbia. From beltway accidents, to rural collisions with farm equipment, as well as pedestrian accidents and wrongful death suits, our professional staff has the training and legal skills to help victims and their families recover damages from negligent parties.
Difficult as it may be to accept, trucking accidents have become an unfortunate part of our modern landscape. The dangers inherent when sharing the road with commercial vehicles have unavoidably led to the injury and death of thousands of innocent people all around this nation. One of the main factors that lead to so many injury-related and fatal traffic accidents involving trucks is the sheer size and weight differences between larger tractor-trailers, flatbed haulers, tanker trucks and box-type delivery vehicles and the smaller and much more vulnerable passenger cars that share the roadways.
As for the cause of many highway wrecks involving 18-wheelers and other large commercial vehicles, a key factor is often that of trucker fatigue. Despite the training and potential penalties that commercial truck drivers face as a result of a negligence-related traffic accident, these drowsy driving incidents continue to plague our roadways as one of the biggest threats to life and limb. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we know that most truck drivers are professionals just trying to do their jobs as safely as possible. However, as with any group of individuals, there are always a few bad apples in the mix who cause the most trouble for everyone else.
In the case of negligent commercial truck drivers, the physical consequences attached to any mistake or careless driving error can be devastating for anyone close by. As some people already know, commercial truckers are required by law to adhere to a variety of federal and state safety regulations pertaining to the operation and upkeep of their vehicles. Many of these rules are laid out in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Of these, the requirements for prospective CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) holder are much higher than a typical operator’s license needed to legally drive a passenger car on public roads.
In fact, it is well known that obtaining a permit to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) requires a greater depth of knowledge, special experience and skills, as well as suitable physical abilities and medical condition than that required when applying for a standard driver’s license. In order to get a CDL, applicants must pass tests that evaluate driving skill and knowledge of vehicle and trucking-specific regulations. In addition to this, commercial truck drivers are held to a higher standard anytime they are driving an 18-wheeler or other CMV.
The policies, procedures and guidelines that have been created by the federal government, as well as Maryland’s State Highway Administration, are meant to help protect the population from the potential hazards that any large and massive motor vehicle can pose to the driving public, pedestrians and other individuals. The basic qualifications that must be met by CDL applicants who wish to operate large trucks intra- and interstate includes the following:
- Age of at least 21 years
- Knowledge of English sufficient to read road signs and be conversant with the public and law enforcement officers
- Successfully pass a DOT-specific medical exam
- Hold a valid license from only one state
It is important to note that commercial truckers who participate in interstate commerce must take and pass a medical examination. The certification requirements are listed as part of the federal regulations [FMCSR, Part 391.41 (a), 391.43 and 391.45]. This also applies to intrastate drivers who operate a commercial vehicle or CMV combination with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or combined rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds. For those drivers who cannot pass the medical requirements, the FMCSA provides for a medical waiver. In addition, the State of Maryland along with the federal government requires specific drug and alcohol testing for holders of CDLs who operating a CMV here in Maryland and elsewhere.
Commercial truck drivers must also provide the state with copies of their latest medical documents, including their DOT Card (and waiver, if applicable). This information must remain on file so long as the driver holds a CDL regardless of whether or not they are actively operating a CMV. Learner’s permits are a separate matter, which requires drivers to provide their proof of age, identity and Maryland residence documents, plus meet the following requirements:
- Pass a vision screening
- Successfully show knowledge of commercial trucking information
- Be at least 18 years old (intrastate CDL learner's permit); 21 years (interstate CDL)
- Possess a valid Maryland passenger car license
- Have a valid DOT medical card (and waiver/exemption, if needed)
To qualify for a CDL, truckers must pass a range of skills testing including the ability to conduct a pre-trip vehicle inspection, and a battery of maneuver tests. There are addition application-specific tests for drivers who will be operating a school bus (school bus endorsement) as part of their job. There are, of course, numerous other requirements and prerequisites necessary to obtain a CDL and maintain it in good standing during the course of one’s driving career.
Still, with all of the rules and regulations, no law or threat of legal penalty can guarantee that a commercial truck driver will not cause a serious accident. While many accidents are treated just as that, accidents, others may be the result of a careless or outright negligent action on a driver’s part. Because of this, the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen are ready, willing and able to represent the interests of victims and their families in cases of traffic-related personal injuries or wrongful death.
If you or someone you care about has been seriously hurt in commercial trucking accident, we recommend that you contact a qualified automobile and trucking accident lawyer to learn about your options for recovery of damages caused by another individual. We know that thorough case preparation is the bedrock of a successful personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. As experienced auto injury lawyers, we can explain your legal right to compensation following a serious traffic-related injury accident.
As skilled trucking accident lawyers, Lebowitz & Mzhen have the experience to ensure any past, current and future medical, rehab and nursing expenses will be included in your injury suit. Please contact our offices at (800) 654-1949 to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with our personal injury attorneys; or you may email either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to set up a meeting to discuss you case.