Trucking school scam helped get hundreds of ill-prepared truck drivers CDLs
Elaborate cheating scandal masterminded by a Brooklyn trucking school instructor resulted in hundreds of bad truck drivers receiving commercial drivers licenses
A Brooklyn trucking school owned and operated by Philip Ng graduated hundreds of unsafe commercial drivers who went on to obtain commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). Mr. Ng did so by helping the applicants cheat to obtain their CDLs, according to a story in the NY Daily News, Feds: Hundreds of truck drivers may be a danger to us all.
Mr. Ng had been helping graduates of his trucking school cheat the system by feeding them the correct answers on their written CDL exams. The scam was quite elaborate. Before taking the written CDL exam, Ng provided his graduates with a jacket equipped with a mini camera hidden in the sleeve. Ng would then park in a van outside of the DMV office in wait. During the test, the applicants would transmit images of difficult questions to a video monitor inside Ng’s van. Ng would review the answers, and would beep the applicant twice if the correct answer was A, four times for B and six times for C.
Following an investigation, Mr Ng and his wife were charged for the tainted test scandal. The couple pleaded guilty.
But the damage is already done. Investigators have expressed deep concern over the scandal. “[Ng] deprived the DMV of the ability to discern whether or not a cheating commercial driver’s license applicant had the requisite knowledge of how to maintain and operate a commercial vehicle…creating a real threat to the public,” write Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Tuchman.
Mr. Tuchman’s concern is real. Currently, 375 of Ng’s “graduates” have been re-tested since the cheating scandal came to light. Of those 375 retested, only 93 of the commercial drivers actually passed the CDL test. To put that in perspective, that is only a passage rate of 24.8%.
It gets worse.
There are still hundreds of Mr. Ng’s graduates out there on the highway who are driving commercial vehicles that have not been retested. To state the obvious, that means there are potentially hundreds of unsafe truck drivers who do NOT know the rules of the road, making unsafe driving decisions. Causing truck accidents and potentially killing innocent people.
This is truly shocking. As a truck accident lawyer for nearly 20 years, I’ve litigated many cases with terrible drivers. I have seen “grasshoppers” – drivers who have caused too many truck accidents or who have received too many tickets – who hop from state to state. There are also “chameleon carriers,” truck companies with terrible safety records that reopen under a new name to avoid penalties. I have dealt with countless bad trucking companies who value profit over safety.
But this is different. I have never seen a trucking school committing criminal fraud, and be willing to disregard the consequences of putting ill-trained drivers behind the equivalent of moving brick walls on city streets and highways.
By helping his graduates cheat, Mr. Ng knowingly placed those truck drivers, and everybody else on the highway, in danger.
Investigator Robert Lopez pointed out just one of the very dangerous instances precipitated by Mr. Ng’s cheating. Lopez highlighted that a truck driver’s knowledge of how to use the truck’s engine brakes in an emergency (called “Jake brakes”) is only covered on the written test. “If the service brakes fail altogether, it would not be an overstatement to say that the engine brake could potentially be the difference between a life and death situation,” Lopez stated.
As a truck accident lawyer and safety advocate, I’m stunned by Mr. Ng’s indifference for the safety of others. Mr. Ng knowingly helped under prepared, dangerous truck drivers get behind the wheel of 80,000 pound big rigs. This despicable behavior is the epitome of the “profit at all costs” attitude that gets people hurt or killed in truck wrecks.
Thankfully, Mr. Ng’s deceit has been exposed. Investigators are now tasked with cleaning up the mess he left behind – hundreds of dangerous drivers scattered all across America.
Mr. Ng’s driving school has been closed and he faces up to 27 months in prison. In my opinion, 27 months is not nearly enough punishment for a crime this egregious. Somebody could be killed because of Mr. Ng’s behavior. Hopefully, investigators can root out all of those dangerous graduates and get them off the road before that happens.
My fellow Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable founding attorney Steven Gursten will be speaking in New York in October. One of his topics will be addressing what lawyers who are representing the victims of truck accident injuries and deaths caused indirectly by Mr. Ng’s criminal disregard should be doing in the civil lawsuits that are surely to come.