Illinois Cracks Down on Truck Driver Licensing to Reduce Truck Accidents and Improve Trucking Safety

New reports show that even licensed truck drivers and bus drivers in Illinois may be unqualified to drive their respective vehicles because of inadequate testing in other states. Some of these unqualified drivers are threats to the public utilizing Illinois highways and can even lead to tragic trucking accidents and bus accidents. In fact, a link has been found between unskilled drivers and an increase in Illinois trucking accidents.

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 (CMVSA) was designed to stop these abuses by prohibiting drivers from holding more than one state license. The CMVSA is addressing the problems caused by unqualified truck drivers and bus drivers by creating a nationwide system that prevents the issuance of multiple licenses.

The CMVSA is also cracking down on the past practice among some unqualified drivers who had multiple licenses from different states to spread around their traffic convictions using different licenses from different states. A new system allows states to exchange information on traffic violations, making it easier to remove problem drivers from the road. In addition, truck drivers who violate the law are subject to tougher penalties.

The CMVSA requires states to adopt uniform testing standards for commercial drivers prior to licensing, which are similar to the testing standards already in effect in Illinois. Illinois was only 1 of 12 states to require testing in the type of vehicle for which an applicant is seeking a license.

In Illinois, a commercial driver’s license must be obtained by the driver of a vehicle with a gross combination weight of 26,001 or more pounds; any vehicle designed to transport 15 or more persons including the driver, regardless of size; and any vehicle that transports hazardous materials.

All truck drivers are required to pass a written exam while some must also pass a skills and driving exam. The exam is divided into three parts:

1. The pre-trip inspection is held to determine whether the driver knows how to inspect the vehicle to see if it is safe to drive.

2. The basic controls skills exam that tests a driver’s ability to use basic skills to control a truck or a bus. The test requires the applicant to drive the rough a course marked by lines, traffic cones or other boundaries.

3. The driving exam tests the driver’s ability to drive safely in a variety of on-road situations including left and right turns, intersections, railway crossings, curves, upgrades and downgrades, rural and semi-rural routes and expressway driving.

Since 2005, federal law has required that all commercial driver’s license holders provide a one-time 10-year driving history check on renewal or surrender of an out-of-state license in order to obtain an Illinois commercial driver’s license.

Most truck drivers of commercial vehicles with a gross motor vehicle weight of 10,001 or greater are required now to carry a Medical Examiner’s Certificate with them at all times while operating their vehicles. Drivers must also show verification of their identity, age, Illinois residency, signature and social security number.

These are just some of the regulations imposed both by Illinois and by the federal government under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that impose greater screening of truck and bus drivers of commercial vehicles in the hopes of decreasing the number of trucking accidents and bus accidents.

For over 30 years Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois trucking accident cases in the areas in and around Cook County, such as Oak Lawn, Chicago, Wheaton, and Evanston.