New rules for pre-employment screening of commercial drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hopes to reduce impaired driving among truckers with a new database and requirements for pre-hiring substance testing.

People who live and work in the greater Boston, Massachusetts area know how dangerous it can be to share the roads with large trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles. Many serious and fatal car accidents involving heavy vehicles happen and can be caused by a variety of factors.

Improperly maintained vehicles, roadway hazards, distracted or fatigued truck drivers can all be the causes of motor vehicle accidents. Commercial drivers who make the choice to operate their vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can also lead to tragic situations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is aware of the dangers associated with impaired drivers operating commercial vehicles. The FMCSA is instituting new rules surrounding the hiring of new drivers as well as regulations for ongoing review of drivers' records in an effort to reduce the number of drunk or drugged driving incidents and related deaths.

A look at the problem around the nation

When looking at accident data from 2011 and 2012 as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a spike in the number of wrongful death situations attributed to drunk driving accidents involving large trucks can be seen. In 2012, more than 10,000 people across the country lost their lives in accidents involving alcohol. Large trucks were found to be a factor in 80 of those deaths.

Those 80 fatalities represent an 86 percent increase over the number of deaths attributed to drunk driving accidents with large trucks. In 2011, 43 people died in such accidents nationwide. This 86 percent jump compares with an increase of just under five percent in the number of people who died in all drunk driving crashes.

What will the new pre-employment screen rules include?

According to the Commercial Carrier Journal, the new rules are part of a larger plan known as the Commercial Drivers' Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule. Some of the requirements that will be set forth under this rule include:

  • All businesses that employ commercial drivers will be required to review the driving records from the federal database of any driver prior to making a new hire.
  • All drivers must successfully pass drug and alcohol testing before being able to be hired for new positions.
  • Drivers may opt out of substance testing but will be ineligible to be hired for driving jobs.
  • All employers must review drivers' records every year after being hired.

Those drivers that own their own vehicles will need to outsource the review of records and reporting of substance testing.

Safety is important for all

Massachusetts residents deserve to feel safe when on the roads. The risk that drunk drivers pose to others is great and anyone involved in an accident with an impaired commercial driver should contact an attorney for help.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury