OOIDA Points to Truck Driver Training Issue in Brake Failure Wreck


Published November 9, 2023

In the aftermath of a catastrophic wreck on Friday, November 3rd, where a semi-truck hauling gravel lost its brakes, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is pointing fingers at a larger issue within the trucking industry—specifically, a widespread problem with truck driver training.

The Wreck Unfolded: A Series of Intersection Disasters

The incident, which unfolded in Toole, Utah, involved a semi-truck careening through multiple intersections before colliding with a car dealership. While the 26-year-old truck driver emerged unscathed, nearly a dozen other individuals suffered injuries. Now, the spotlight is on the OOIDA, raising concerns about the adequacy of truck driver training programs.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Speaks Out: A Training Void in Trucking

Lewie Pugh, the Executive Vice President of OOIDA, attributes the dramatic wreck to a critical gap in truck driver training. He emphasizes the lack of preparation for handling emergencies, pointing out that the trucking industry falls short in adequately training its drivers compared to other sectors.

The Problem at the Core: Training vs. Passing Tests

Pugh highlights a fundamental flaw in the industry’s approach to training. Unlike professions where individuals are extensively trained to handle unexpected situations, truck drivers often only need to pass a test to obtain their license. Pugh’s concern is palpable when he states, “All you got to do to become a truck driver is to pass a test, and that is pretty scary.”

Industry Critique: Young Drivers Unprepared for the Road

The OOIDA Executive Vice President further criticizes the industry’s failure to mentor and guide new drivers adequately. He points out that many young individuals enter the industry without a comprehensive understanding of their responsibilities, leading to potentially disastrous consequences on the road.

Expert Insight: Brakes and the Perils of Riding Them

Truck driver Roland Roberts, familiar with the area of the incident, sheds light on a potential scenario that could have led to the brake failure. Roberts suggests that the driver, navigating through town, might have overheated the brakes by riding them excessively. This insight highlights the importance of not only driver training but also understanding the nuances of operating heavy vehicles in specific terrains.

Truckers' Safety Advocacy: A Call for Change

Pugh reiterates that truckers are deeply invested in highway safety, and the industry must address the training void to ensure the well-being of both drivers and the public. The interstate highway, often considered a trucker’s office, demands a higher standard of training and preparation to prevent incidents like the Toole wreck.

Accountability Dynamics: The Lone Person Behind the Wheel

A poignant observation by Pugh emphasizes the disproportionate burden of accountability on the driver. He notes that, unfortunately, when accidents occur, the blame often falls solely on the person behind the wheel, neglecting the systemic issues that contribute to such incidents.
The truck driver involved in the wreck is employed by CL Ranch Transport based in Grantsville, Utah. While the focus is on training issues within the industry, it prompts questions about the role of individual companies in ensuring their drivers are adequately prepared for the challenges of the road.
The Toole wreck serves as a stark reminder of the need for comprehensive training reforms within the trucking industry. The OOIDA’s critique underscores the urgency of addressing gaps in driver preparation to prevent similar incidents and ensure the safety of all road users.