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DOT cases shed light on dangerous scams by truck drivers

How unfit drivers end up behind the wheel of large and dangerous vehicles

Because commercial trucks are so large and heavy, drivers are expected to meet certain criteria to hold a commercial driver's license (CDL). Knowing that the drivers of large trucks have been specially certified should give motorists peace of mind. Unfortunately, dishonest and negligent drivers sometimes slip through and end up behind the wheel of a semi truck.

The Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigates alleged criminal behavior by truck drivers and their employers. Three recent cases before the OIG show alarming behavior in the trucking industry:

  • Cheating on tests - Three individuals were convicted of helping drivers cheat on CDL tests. Independent text-takers, facilitators, guards and others were employed to enable cheating and give permits to applicants who did not pass the appropriate test.
  • Buying and selling results -- In another case, a third-party commercial driving examiner admitted to accepting cash bribes for allowing drivers to skip the skills test. At least one applicant obtained a false certificate, which was later used to obtain a commercial license.
  • Forging medical documents - One driver, perhaps fearing that he would not pass the required medical screening, pleaded guilty to forging a nurse's signature on a DOT medical form and medical card.

Know how to protect yourself

It is impossible to say how common this behavior is - or whether the driver of the next tractor trailer you see has actually been properly licensed.

If you or someone you love have been injured in a collision with a large truck, don't assume the accident was your fault. More importantly, don't admit fault to the police or insurance company without talking to a lawyer first. Truck accidents are highly complex and it takes a thorough investigation to determine what happened and identify any misconduct by the driver.

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