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What are the Training and Licensing Requirements for Truck Drivers in California?

A fully loaded commercial tractor trailer is more than 70 feet long and can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Given the immense size, it is not a surprise that trucks pose an inherent safety hazard. All drivers in California should be operated by licensed, trained, and competent drivers. Here, our Stockton semi-truck accident lawyer explains the key things to know about trucker licensing requirements and your options if you are hurt in a crash with an undertrained driver in California.

Know the Risk: Inexperienced and Undertrained Truckers are More Likely to Crash

Driving a commercial truck is a task that should be performed by a skilled professional. When large trucks are involved in a collision, the consequences are disproportionately likely to be catastrophic or even deadly. Alarmingly, truckers with limited experience and without proper training are more likely to crash. Indeed, inexperienced and undertrained truck drivers contribute to many accidents in California. Their lack of expertise can lead to critical errors in judgment and handling of the truck. Ensuring that truck drivers receive comprehensive training is essential for preventing accidents. 

An Overview of California’s CDL Requirements for Truck Drivers

Not every person who has a driver’s license can simply accept a job and start operating a large commercial truck. Truckers need to hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) that is in good standing. Notably, California has strict requirements for obtaining and maintaining a valid CDL. The regulations are designed to comply with federal guidelines. To obtain a CDL in California, the following criteria must be met: 

  • Medical Examination: Drivers must pass a physical exam conducted by a certified medical examiner to ensure they can meet the physical demands of commercial driving. Along with other things, this includes a visual examination. 
  • KnowledgeTests: Applicants are required to pass a series of written tests that assess their knowledge of road safety, truck mechanics, and specific driving scenarios related to commercial vehicles.
  • Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP): Before taking the actual driving test, drivers must obtain a CLP, which allows them to practice on public roads under supervision. The permit is valid for one year and must be held for at least 14 days before applying for the full CDL.
  • Skills Test: The California CDL skills test has many specific sections, including a pre-trip vehicle inspection, a basic control skills test, and an on-road driving exam. 
  • Special Endorsements: Depending on the type of vehicle and cargo, endorsements may be required, such as for hazardous materials, passenger vehicles, or tank vehicles.

Successful completion of all these requirements allows a person to get the CDL that he or she needs to drive a commercial truck. Notably, ongoing compliance with health and safety standards is necessary to maintain the license, including periodic renewals and medical examinations. Repeated traffic safety violations could lead to the suspension or even termination of a CDL. 

Trucking Companies Have a Duty to Employ (and Train) Safe Drivers

In California, Trucking companies have a critical responsibility to hire and train drivers who can operate their vehicles safely and competently. The duty involves not only selecting candidates who meet all legal driving requirements but also providing ongoing training to enhance their skills and awareness of safety protocols. By investing in comprehensive training programs, companies can significantly reduce the risk of accidents. They should never put profits before public safety. That means making sure drivers are properly trained.

A Trucker and Trucking Company Can Be Held Liable for Crashes Caused By Inexperience

California is a fault-based motor vehicle accident jurisdiction, including for eighteen wheeler accidents. When a trucking accident is caused by a driver’s inexperience, both the trucker and the trucking company can be held liable. Employers are accountable for their employees’ actions within the scope of their employment—especially so if inadequate training or oversight contributed to the accident. Serious truck accidents require a comprehensive investigation. Along with other things, your Stockton, CA truck accident lawyer can seek a trucker’s driving records to determine their level of experience, their training, and evaluate any prior history of traffic safety violations. 

Injured Victims Deserve Compensation for Truck Accident

Were you or your loved one hurt in a semi-truck accident in Stockton or elsewhere in California? It is imperative that you are able to access compensation to pay your bills and support your family. In California, injured victims can pursue compensation for both their economic losses and their intangible damages. We hold inexperienced and undertrained truckers—and more importantly, their employers—accountable. You may be able to recover compensation for: 

  • Property damage, such as truck repairs; 
  • Emergency room care; 
  • Hospital bills; 
  • Other health care expenses; 
  • Loss of wages; 
  • Loss of future earnings; 
  • Pain and suffering; 
  • Emotional anguish; 
  • Disability; 
  • Loss of quality of life; and 
  • Wrongful death. 

How Our Stockton, CA Truck Accident Attorneys Can Help 

Truck companies have a duty to ensure that their drivers are licensed, properly trained, and otherwise safe for the road. When a crash happens, injured victims need justice and the absolute maximum financial support. At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, we have deep experience handling complex commercial truck accident cases. If you were hurt in a wreck, it is our mission to help you secure the absolute maximum compensation, including for any non-economic damages. We encourage you to review our case results and contact our Stockton truck accident attorneys directly with any specific questions or concerns about your claim. 

Consult With Our Stockton Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer Today

At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton tractor trailer accident attorney provides justice-focused advocacy to victims and families. We are on your side each and every step of the way. If you were hurt in a crash with an inexperienced or undertrained trucker, we are more than ready to help. Give us a phone call now or contact us online for a free, no obligation initial case review. From our Stockton law office, we handle semi-truck accident claims all across the region.