Friday, 10 September 2010

Influx of Russian Drivers in Trucking Industry

Time magazine has a piece on the growing numbers of Russian immigrant drivers in the trucking industry, and the kind of safety impact drivers with a limited knowledge of English could have in an industry that’s so dependent on the professionalism and quality of its drivers.

There no studies to indicate exactly how many Russian-born drivers are in the United States currently. But immigration in the segment has been increasing steadily over the years. A dismal economic scene for truck drivers in Russia has meant more numbers of them coming to the US. Most of them lack educational qualifications and are above the age of 35. For them, there may be no other options than to drive trucks.

So are they really any safety issues from these drivers, or is Time magazine overreacting? Anytime there is a truck driver behind the wheel who is not able to read road signs or understand English properly, there is a serious risk to trucking safety. Just about every Las Vegas truck accident lawyer will agree with that.

In fact, to be able to obtain a Commercial Drivers License, drivers need to be able to read and speak English at least sufficiently enough to be able to talk to the public. They also need to be able to understand traffic signs and signals. They also must be able to talk to inspection officers if they're pulled over for a check.

There are Russians who can speak English sufficiently well, but most drivers do struggle with the language. In 2001, an audit of Utah's CDL system found that many immigrant drivers had been using electronic translation devices to take the CDL test. In August, federal prosecutors broke open a scheme in Pennsylvania, selling CDLs to incompetent drivers, many of them Russian-speaking immigrants.

None of this is to say that all of the country's Russian-born truckers are not qualified to operate rigs. However, any time you have a truck being operated by a person who can't speak sufficient English to perform his job appropriately-whether it is a Russian, Finn or Brazilian - you have a definite trucking safety issue.

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