A trucking company’s driver manual tells its drivers all about the company’s safety policies and procedures. Generally, these manuals just recite Chapter 2 (the safety chapter) of the state’s CDL manual, and occasionally they includes material from a defensive driving course for truck Drivers such as the Smith System. Not a lot of difference in these manuals other than they do show the standards a driver is expected to follow, and that the company knew its driver’s should follow these rules. Frankly, driving safely is something we all learn and, for the most part, it involves basic physics we all know. Big things in motion (trucks) take longer to stop than little things in motion (cars). Thus trucks need more stopping distance than cars and better have good brakes! Not a lot of different ways you can discuss safe following distances and how to brake a tractor trailer.

Recently, however,  I have found I have had to fight for a copies of trucking companies’ driver’s manuals as the companies have suddenly started to say they are "secret." I have even had to file motions with judges to get this information [see my blog here]. More and more trucking company defense lawyers apparently believe there is some litigation advantage in keeping this information confidential, out of the public eye, and have put out and email telling all the other trucking defense lawyers not to turn over the driver’s manual. This is a bad trend, doesn’t make sense, and should be stopped.

Of course "this gives us an unfair advantage in litigation" is not what the trucking company lawyers are saying in court. In court they claim that their ability to keep the public safe is a "competitive advantage" that they don’t want leaked to other trucking companies. How to drive an 80,000 pound tractor trailer on our highways and streets without killing people should never be a competitive advantage for a trucking company.

I find it outrageous that a trucking company can claim that the the public’s (that is you and me my friends) safety is a competitive advantage (we kill less people than they do) worthy of a court’s protection. The fact they KILL less people on the road is, in fact, a good thing, but that they wont share that information to keep everyone on the road safe is appalling. It stinks to the high heavens. Luckily, some lawyers fight back on this issue, and some judges have common sense. 

Recently attorney Ed Ciarimboli, at Fellerman & Ciarimboli in Kingston, PA,  took this issue (and several others) in front of  judge in Pennsylvania and received an Order telling the trucking company, A. Duie Pyle (a very large trucking company with over 800 drivers and over 36 Million miles on the roadways in 2010)  that they had to turn over the manual without a secrecy Order. This type of hard work makes us all much safer when we drive. My hats off to Mr. Ciarimboli and the judge in that case (I would list his name but I cant read his signature!). A copy of the judge’s Order can be found HERE.