Help to reduce drunk driving among truckers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration expects to launch a new database designed to help curb impaired operation among commercial drivers in 2016.

Drunk driving is a known danger on Pittsburg roads, highways and freeways. Too many tragic accidents are caused when drivers make the choice to get behind the wheel of automobiles after drinking too much. When drunk driving accidents involve the negligent acts of truck drivers or other persons operating large commercial vehicles, the consequences can be even more severe because these vehicles are so much heavier and larger than standard passenger vehicles.

How many people die in drunk truck driving accidents?

Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that the United States lost 43 lives in truck collisions involving impaired drivers in 2011. In 2012, the number of fatalities rose by a staggering amount to a total of 86. Between the two years, the country also experienced an increase in all drunk driving deaths, not just those attributed to truck accidents.

What help is available?

The federal government recognizes the serious dangers posed by drunk truck drivers. Even just one wrongful death is one too many. The industry publication, the Commercial Carrier Journal, provides information on a new effort by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration referred to within the industry as the Commercial Driver's Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule.

This rule is really a combination of a robust database along with an associated set of requirements that commercial driving employers must adhere to both during the application and hiring process and once drivers are hired and driving. The projected launch date for the database is in the first part of 2016.

What information will the database track?

The FMCSA's new database will collect information from employers and third parties about successful or unsuccessful results from drug and alcohol testing as well as any choices on the part of drivers to not participate in drug and alcohol testing.

All companies looking to hire a truck driver will have to review a driver's records in the database during the application process. Third parties will manage this review for any independent owner-operators. Both employers and third parties must require substance testing of all drivers and must also report the results of those tests to the database.

Testing can be refused by drivers and these refusals must also be reported to the database by the employers or independent third parties. Only non-driving jobs will be made available to drivers who opt out of the drug and alcohol testing.

When improved safety is not enough

This effort on the part of the FMCSA should be welcome by all Pennsylvania residents. However, it may not be enough to prevent all drunk truck driving accidents. When these situations occur, victims or their loved ones should seek legal help immediately.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury