New rule targets impaired truck driving

Drunk driving and drugged driving among commercial drivers is the focus of a new federal database and rules set to launch this year.

Residents in Montana know that driving poses a wide range of risks. From inclement weather to hazards on the roads, some motor vehicle accidents are not directly or solely caused by human actions. Other accidents, however, are caused by the negligence of people. Drunk drivers, for example, make the choice to operate vehicles while impaired and put themselves and other innocent persons in serious jeopardy.

When a drunk driver is operating a large commercial vehicle, the chance for tragic consequences can increase. The sheer size and weight of a semi-truck or other similar vehicle makes this so. Collisions with trucks can be caused by fatigued drivers, distracted drivers or impaired drivers. The latter is the focus of a new effort set to be launched by the federal government late this year.

The drug and alcohol clearinghouse rule

According to the Commercial Carrier Journal, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last year began work on a new database that will be used as part of a robust pre-hire screening process for truckers and other commercially licensed drivers. The original timeline for the project indicated it would be complete in 2015 or early in 2016. A recent report by OverdriveOnline.com indicated that the FMCSA plans to launch the database on December 14, 2015.

Some of the rules surrounding the use of the database include the following:

  • Before being hired, all commercial drivers must successfully pass alcohol and drug testing.
  • Employers must report the result from every test for every applicant to the database. This includes test failures.
  • Drivers can opt out of the testing but will not be allowed to drive in commercial position.
  • Once hired and working, drivers will have their records reviewed by their employers every year.

It is important to note that impairment by both drugs and alcohol is targeted with the FMCSA rule. It is not the only federal agency to acknowledge the serious risk posed by drug impairment. The Food and Drug Administration has been working with drug companies to find better ways to properly identify which medications are likely to result in impairment among drivers.

Drivers should take note

Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlight the dangers posed by impaired truck drivers. In 2011, 43 deaths were attributed to truck accidents in which the truck driver was impaired by alcohol. The following year, the number of those deaths reached 80.

People in Montana should be ever aware of their rights when an accident does happen. Talking to a lawyer is recommended and can be a vital means of receiving appropriate compensation.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury