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Qualified versus unqualified Virginia truck driver

After a serious Virginia truck accident, one important piece of evidence related to establishing liability on the part of the truck driver is determining whether or not he or she was an unqualified truck driver. Despite the licensing requirements and federal regulations that relate to truck drivers and trucking companies, not all drivers or companies adhere to the law. In order to understand whether a driver was qualified at a most basic level, it is important to understand the relevant licensing requirements that apply to truck drivers.

Large tractor trailers and semi-trucks are classified as commercial motor vehicles. Because they are recognized as significantly different and potentially more dangerous than ordinary passenger vehicles, the law requires that drivers of these large trucks and commercial vehicles have more experience, skills, knowledge and physical abilities than average drivers.

In order to become a licensed and qualified truck driver, the driver must first obtain a commercial driver's license, also known as a CDL. The testing and licensing process to obtain this CDL requires specific knowledge of things that are particular to driving large commercial vehicles. There are three different types of CDLs, as well as additional endorsements that apply to different vehicles within the commercial motor vehicles classification.

A driver must have not only the correct type of CDL but also the specific endorsement for the vehicle he or she is driving in order to be qualified to drive that vehicle. Specific types of endorsements are required, for example, for drivers who will be driving trucks carrying hazardous materials, a truck with double or triple trailers or a truck with a tank.

The process of maintaining CDL certification requires not only passing the initial knowledge and skills tests but also avoiding traffic violations while driving. Drivers with CDLs must comply with higher standards than drivers of ordinary passenger vehicles, so any driver with a history of violations or other dangerous behavior could lose his or her licensure to driver large commercial vehicles, thus making him or her an unqualified truck driver.

Source:, "Commercial Driver's License Program," July 1, 2014

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