Reducing drunk truck driver accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is targeting a reduction in impaired operation by commercial drivers with a new database and rules.

Residents of Charleston, West Virginia who are concerned about the dangers of sharing the roads with large commercial trucks should learn about a new effort to improve safety currently in development by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Understanding that impairment by drugs or alcohol is form of truck driver negligence that often leads to serious injury or even wrongful death accidents.

The Commercial Carrier Journal reported on what is termed the Commercial Driver's Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule within the commercial transportation industry. This rule centers around a database that will be used in screening applicants for commercial driving positions and also for screening drivers' records on a regular basis once hired. The goal is to reduce the number of alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crashes caused by truckers and other commercial drivers.

How extensive is the problem?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration keeps statistics about a variety of automobile accidents including those involving drunk drivers and commercial drivers. The NHTSA records from 2011 report a total of 43 fatalities attributed to drunk truck drivers. The data from 2012 reports a jump by 37 to a total of 80 such fatalities. This represented an increase of 86 percent which compares to an increase of 4.6 percent for all drunk driving deaths in 2012 versus 2011.

Basic components of the clearinghouse

When an employer is in the process of hiring a new commercial driver, the database records for applicants must be reviewed once the applicants have provided their written consent for the reviews. Additionally, every applicant will be required to successfully pass testing for drugs and alcohol in order to be legally hired for a driving position. Yearly reviews of drivers' records must take place by employers to ensure ongoing safety.

Employers will be required to provide all substance test results, including both passes and failures, to the database. A driver can opt out of the testing. If that happens, the employer will have to report the test refusal to the database and the applicant will then only be eligible to be hired for jobs that do not involve driving.

Drugs and alcohol targeted

The database, which is expected to be ready for use in 2016, will focus on both alcohol and drug use equally. While more press is given to the dangers of drunk driving, drugged driving is also of concern. The Food and Drug Administration recently provided a draft set of guidelines to drug manufacturers for how to identify those substances likely to increase a person's chance of causing a motor vehicle accident.

Victims should take action

If involved in an accident with a large truck, victims should seek legal help. Anyone injured by a negligent or drunk truck driver deserves compensation.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury