Fired For Accident And Not Sure What To Do.

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Ian G.'s Comment
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As a former law enforcement officer and supervisor of a traffic unit I can tell you that first and foremost the collision was your and yours alone fault. Accept it and move on with that. In 28 years I have worked and/or approved collision reports and heard pretty much every excuse. And I say collision because that is what the event is. The word accident is not descriptive of the event, only the intention behind it.

I agree.

I believe I know the company you worked at, has had to payout a tidy sum because of your actions. You will never know what went on there, but I can assure you it had some zero’s behind the leading number..That company has had and still has a unwritten policy regarding collisions. I don’t personally like it but I’m not writing checks on their behalf. That policy is “ any collision costing more than 10k termination is mandatory”. Fault does not matter. It as I said is unwritten, seldom talked about, and never amoung management but none the less exists. That is the primary reason your on the non rehire list. I get calls from them a few times a year asking if I want to return, and I nicely decline, primarily because of that policy. They are nice folks, but at anytime we can all get caught up no matter what.

Wow. That is some interesting information for sure. I'm curious, how did you learn of this "unwritten policy"? I know insurance probably calls the shots on this.

You say that "at anytime we can all get caught up no matter what". That's what I've been trying to say this whole time. Trucking demands constant vigilance, which is practically impossible, and the collision I had is an example of what can go wrong with just a few seconds of inattention. It's also why it seems unfair to be fired for attempting to do what was asked of me, particularly because I had mostly positive feedback in the past. Yes, I messed up, but every local driver at the company experienced the same problems I did and had about equal risk of causing a similar collision. I did complain about the length of the workdays but no solution was offered, so they can't say they had no idea the risk existed. I don't know whether they were attempting to correct the issue.

Based on what you and others have said, I have decided not to pursue a career in trucking.

Mr. Curmudgeon's Comment
member avatar

Starting to sound the the Gurnee, IL thing from a year or so ago....

Ian, if you dont know the signs of fatigue then, yes, i agree with your decision to seek a new career path. Dont look to law enforcement, fire / ems, or the military as they all *also* require a high level of attentiveness when on duty. I've done all three, and speak from experience. I watched as a young man torpedoed a promising career by claiming his wreck came as s result of avoiding a deer crossing the road in front of him.

Further, since you claim to have been fatigued but didnt know it, you may need to explore the possibility that you have a medical condition causing microsleep episodes. Sleep apnea? Take the online confidential assessment. Neuro issues? Glycemia issues? Maybe a full on medical workup would be in order.

Or, your 'unexpected rapid onset fatigue episode' could have been a deer crossing the road in front of a young man's minivan. A seemingly viable explanation. In any event, good fortune to you as you move forward.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

Dave Reid's Comment
member avatar

Ian, the accident you had - rear-ending a four wheeler - is a type that is considered extremely serious by trucking companies and others. We can easily kill people that way, so a lot of companies aren't going to risk having someone on board that has already had such an incident.

That said, there are some companies known for giving a second chance. You may well be able to find one that will give you another opportunity, likely after a period of re-training. But you will need to approach the matter, both with yourself and with potential employers, with the right attitude, and that will include acknowledging your error, refraining from stating or thinking of the error as anyone's fault but your own, and indicating that you have learned from your mistake and won't make such a mistake again and are eager for any new knowledge you can gain.

Let me start by saying a huge thank you to Brett and all the moderators on this website. I’ve been lurking here for a few years now and I can tell this is by far the best trucking site.

Four months ago I was terminated for having an accident that was deemed preventable. Basically, the company made me drive while fatigued and I rear ended someone. I got a ticket for Failure to Reduce Speed which was dismissed in court. I have spent the past few months unsuccessfully attempting to appeal the “preventable” ruling and subsequent termination in an attempt to get rehired.

I don’t want to name the company here because they probably monitor this website and will read this post. They know who I am. I’m not trying to hide anything from them, but I don’t want them to accuse me of libel either. If you think you know the company’s name, please don’t post it here. The manager who told me I was fired also said I was permanently ineligible for rehire, but one of their recruiters said I might be considered for rehire once I had some safe driving experience. I’m not sure which of them to believe. I do want to go back to the same company because despite their issues, they seem to have the most progressive attitude toward safety, and also a unique home time option.

Now I have gotten to the stage of applying for other jobs. I filled out the application on this website and it returned five results. One was actually the company that fired me, and I had to rule out three others for various reasons. The remaining company’s recruiter said she could not hire someone who was terminated for an accident, but they are reviewing that policy and would contact me again if it changes.

I feel ambivalent about going back into the trucking industry at all. The company that fired me is a large one that prides itself on being one of the safest in the nation. There were so many safety issues there, some of which contributed to the accident, that I’m afraid of finding out what a less safe company could be like. I also would not be able to accept a “standard” OTR job with minimal home time. But I know my options are already limited, so I will probably end up leaving the industry.

If it matters, I live in the Chicago area.

So, my questions are: Would any reasonably safe companies that offer average or better home time be able to hire me, or would I have to work for some sketchy small company, if at all? What are the odds of getting rehired at the original company with 1 year accident-free? What are the odds they’d rehire me with any amount of experience? Is there anything else I could attempt to get my job back before I send applications anywhere else? Given that the employer did more to cause the accident than I did, could an attorney be of any help? If I don’t go back to trucking, what other jobs still exist that pay a living wage and don’t require a lengthy training period?

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

Did you see a doctor??? You keep spouting fatigue but do you realize those symptoms apply to depression, ADD, anema, temporal lobe epilepsy, low blood circulation and probably a dozen other conditions???

You just admitted something powerful:

the collision I had is an example of what can go wrong with just a few seconds of inattention

YOUR inattention. YOUR distraction. Not the companys and not trucking as an industry. I bet i ran a ton more miles and hourds than you did but i never rear ended anyone. Do you know why? Because i made it a point to know my body.

Distractions Can Kill Your Career, or Worse

People think im crazy for doing a lot of 8/2 splits but i learned early on that they help me when i need the extra rest. Driving 300 miles the taking a nap helps.me, but i learned that. I paid attention. You dont sound to be in tune with your body.

Truckers Sleep: A Rare Commodity

It amazes me you did a ton of research to try to get out of the preventable, but you never researched trucker sleep. You blame a company for not providing information and training on fatigue.

Do you realize dispatch can't tell if you are tired, sick, fatigued etc unless you tell them? they are not mind readers. But you didn't know, so how can you blame them for not knowing?

Also...i take issue with the idea there is only one safe company out there. Mine is extremely safety conscious....but you arent. My company has a safety meeting every Friday that is simulcast to the terminals and our phone apps. We have the cell number to the owner of the company who is there every day and visible for comments and concerns. If i say the truck or traiker needs a repair it gets done ASAP. If i say im tired i get loaded later. So stop blaming "less than safe" companies for your inattention.

Good luck and get tested. i think there is a lot.more going on than "fatigue".

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

I think your whole outlook is baloney. You rear ended someone, because you were following too close and possibly speeding also period. You say you weren't sleepy, so just get over it and admit it was all on you. Oooh. 55 hours a week? We work 70 hours a week much of the time.

No sympathy from me, and with your attitude, I'm glad I won't be sharing the roads with you behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound death machine.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar
every local driver at the company experienced the same problems I did and had about equal risk of causing a similar collision

So if they all have the same risk, how come only you had the accident? Did you notice you just stated the driver aka you caused the collision? Does fatigue some how flash a neon sign on all the drivers foreheads except yours?

Did you ask the other drivers how they deal with it? Does it resonate now why inexperience drivers should not start out in high paced, high stressed local gigs just to get more hometime?

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

You have more than one year experience driving with a CDL and have not been able to judge when you are in no condition to drive (fatigued)? You have a career-killing preventable rear-end collision? You don't feel it was completely your fault? You want to post on here looking for vindication that it wasn't your bad decisions that led to your rightful termination, then subsequent difficulty finding another transportation opportunity? You need to seriously consider another line of work. Good luck to you.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Ian G.'s Comment
member avatar

OK, so I decided not to post again until I had really thought this through. After having this discussion on my mind for the past several hours, I have to conclude that I was in fact in denial about certain things and making contradictory statements. Thanks to everyone for setting me straight.

I once read a story, which may have been on this website, of a driver who described how he rolled over and totaled his truck but was not fired. When he talked with his company's safety department, they determined that he didn't intentionally do anything unsafe that contributed to the crash. I expected a similar result before I considered my accident was fatigue related. My plan from the beginning was to tell the truth about what I thought happened, but then they just fired me without giving that opportunity and I felt I had no choice but to take a "defensive" stance.

I showed an early version of this argument to the attorney who helped me beat the ticket. He strongly emphasized "Be careful not to say anything that might be interpreted as admitting guilt". I took that to mean I wasn't guilty at all, which is incorrect. Over the next few months I was preoccupied with refining the argument so I could appeal the "preventable" ruling on my work history. That's how I became so convinced it was a foolproof argument and why you all got some initial pushback when you called me out on it. I was honestly surprised anyone disagreed at all and that the conversation became mostly focused on one sentence of my original post.

I still am not convinced that I could have identified I was fatigued on the day of the crash. But that ends up being a moot point because I didn't demand more rest when the work hours started to get ridiculous, which would have prevented the accident. That was the weakest link in my argument and it didn't hold up to scrutiny. I also still believe that trucking companies do have some responsibility to prevent crashes, even though the driver is ultimately responsible for his or her actions. It is generally known that fatigue is a major issue in the industry, so it is in their best interest to educate drivers. They could, for example, hand out a pamphlet that describes basic sleep needs and ways to identify and reduce fatigue.

One point I will not back down from is that it is possible to be fatigued without knowing it. "Fatigue" does not mean the same as "tiredness", nor is it always caused by sleep deprivation. Not enough people are educated on this issue. If you catch yourself following too closely, getting mad at another driver, or just dealing with stress in general, ask yourself whether you might be experiencing the onset of fatigue. Don't be afraid to take a break before it gets worse, or else you might become too impaired to make good decisions.

I haven't read the most recent replies yet, but I will answer any lingering questions tomorrow morning if there are any.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

You may think you're on the right path to reality, but I still think you're on a dead end street: Denial Blvd.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

This whole conversation is making me fatigued, but I'm frustrated because my company never gave me clear guidelines so I could recognize when something is fatiguing me. I refuse to back down on this. It is not my fault. A person can never realize they are fatigued unless their employer spells it all out for them. Therefore I will continue trying to follow this poor fellows mental gyrations and conclusions. Hopefully I won't get myself severely impaired by this, but if I do, I'm going to lay the blame at Ian's feet - it's clearly his fault. After all, it is his logic that has caused my fatigue.

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