Large trucks barrel up and down New Jersey roads and highways every day. Truckers shuttle cargo from Newark and points further north along the congested lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike. Delivery vehicles take packages and goods to homes and businesses from Paramus to Tom’s River on the Garden State Parkway and major surface roads like Route 9.
Given the large number of trucks traveling through New Jersey, you may assume truck drivers have the necessary requirements for the job and are operating their truck in the safest manner possible. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. All too often truck accidents involve unqualified truck drivers and negligence on the part of both the truck driver and trucking company with lax safety protocols like not performing driver background checks.
New Jersey Truck Driver Qualifications
To drive a commercial truck in New Jersey, you must have a New Jersey commercial driver license (CDL). The basic requirements for a New Jersey CDL include:
- Be at least 18 years old, though you must 21 to drive a commercial truck across state lines;
- Have a basic New Jersey drivers license;
- Have 20/40 vision, with or without glasses;
- Be able to see and identify the colors red, green and yellow
- Per federal regulations, be able to obtain a Medical Examiner’s Certification that states you are physically fit enough to operate a commercial vehicle
Along with these basic requirements, prospective New Jersey CDL drivers must complete a knowledge test in order to obtain a learner’s permit from a licensing center -- located across the state of New Jersey, from Wayne to Vineland.
Once a driver obtains a learner’s permit, he or she can practice driving and must wait 14 days before taking a skills test at a New Jersey motor vehicle agency. Many truck drivers may choose to learn how to drive a truck through formal training in a truck driving school, though that is not required.
Once a driver has obtained a CDL, they can pursue an endorsement that specifies what type of commercial trucks a driver may drive. For example, a hazmat endorsement is required for any truck driver who is hauling hazardous materials. Or, both a passenger and school bus endorsement is required to drive a school bus.
Each of these endorsements may have additional requirements for truck drivers. For instance, in order to drive any commercial passenger trucks, like a charter bus, drivers must also pass a fingerprint background check and take an additional test. There may also be federal requirements for certain endorsements.
New Jersey Truck Driver Disqualifications
Through the federally-established Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act (MCSIA) mandate, truck drivers face “uniform testing and licensing standards” designed to better highway safety. Commercial drivers face penalties and disqualification from a CDL (temporarily or permanently) for actions such as traffic violations that cause an accident to serious crimes like drinking and driving. In New Jersey, those who hold a CDL and are convicted of drunk driving a passenger vehicle face consequences such as one year suspension for the first offense to permanent revocation after the second.
New Jersey Unqualified Truck Drivers and Liability
Trucking companies and businesses that own trucking fleets owe a duty of care to the general public. This includes the obligation to exercise a certain level of safety and caution when operating their business. Checking to make sure that drivers are qualified and trained as well as pass a background check is exercising appropriate caution and prudence. A company that hires an unqualified driver or driver that would not pass a background check can be found to be negligent.
At the same time, unqualified drivers may also be found negligent and be held liable for an accident. Even if the truck driver is not directly employed by the owner of the transport or truck company, both the trucking company and driver can be held liable for an accident that is the result of negligence.
Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, New Jersey Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help
Are you considering talking to a New Jersey truck accident attorney about an injury you or a loved one sustained in a truck accident? At Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, we believe in compassion and empathy and want to help. Contact us today for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success, we can get you the justice you deserve.