FMCSA strengthens monitoring of commercial driver records

The federal government agency that monitors commercial driving is developing a database to better monitor substance use and violations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is tackling the problem of drunk driving or drugged driving among commercial drivers head on in an effort to improve safety for residents in Massachusetts and around the country. The agency is in the process of developing a national database that will house driving records for all people who hold commercial licenses. It will focus heavily on drug and alcohol testing results and impaired driving violations.

The goal is to reduce the number of truck accidents that involve drivers operating vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to the Commercial Carrier Journal, drivers and employers will each have specific responsibilities, including:

  • Employers must require that drivers take and pass substance tests before they can be hired to work in driving positions.
  • Drivers must agree to participate in testing in writing or be limited to work in non-driving capacities.
  • Employers will review drivers' official records once per year.
  • DUI or similar convictions will be reported to the database and drivers must follow the stated protocol before they can return to their previous duties.

There will also be a process by which people can have incorrect information removed from the database.

A view into the problem

From the Northeast to the Southwest, motor vehicle accidents involving impaired commercial drivers happen more frequently than many people may know. In California, Lake County News reported on a trucker who was arrested for DUI after hitting a bicyclist and KTLA.com provided information about another truck driver who now faces felony charges for not just driving under the influence but also for his role in what became a fatal hit-and-run collision.

A LehighValleyLive.com story told of another fatal crash that involved multiple vehicles and was caused by a truck driver with a BAC more than twice the legal limit. A driver in Ohio was arrested with a high blood alcohol content as well. The Sandusky Register indicates the arrest was his third lifetime DUI.

The risk in Massachusetts

Norfolk County residents are at risk for being involved in drunk driving or truck accidents every day. In 2012, the county recorded the most number of deaths statewide in truck accidents of all counties and only four other counties lost more lives in drunk driving accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Statewide and in Norfolk County, more than 39 percent of all vehicular fatalities that year were attributed to accidents involving alcohol or large trucks.

Getting into action

While the FMCSA is working to get the new database completed, people around the country should know that they have the right to get legal help when these accidents occur. Talking to an attorney promptly is always encouraged.

Keywords: commercial, truck, accident, injury