New effort to reduce impaired driving among truckers

Morristown, Tennessee, residents face serious dangers on the roads every day. Whether as a driver, passenger, bicyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian, the risk of being hit by a driver impaired by drugs or alcohol is all too real. When that driver is operating a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle, the risk of serious injury or death can be even greater.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records from 2011, 43 people in the United States died at the hands of a negligent truck driver who made the choice to operate a vehicle while drunk. In the next year, the number of fatalities associated with drunk driving accidents caused by large truck drivers climbed by a total of 86 percent. In 2012, 80 people died in such accidents.

Drugs are also a problem for drivers

Impaired driving can result from the use of alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription drugs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued information to drug makers that highlight better ways that they can note which products are likely to cause drivers to be impaired. The goal is to increase safety on the roads by more accurately warning people of the side effects of drugs.

What can be done to reduce impaired driving among commercial drivers?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the federal agency that oversees commercial driving in the U.S. Last year the FMCSA announced that it would build a new database designed to capture and report on information about drug and alcohol use for all commercial drivers. A recent report in indicated that this database is currently scheduled to launch by December 14 of this year. Earlier estimates indicated the release date could range from late 2015 to early 2016.

Details about the database and how it will be used have been provided by the Commercial Carrier Journal. Some information includes:

  • All commercial drivers will be required to take and pass alcohol and drug tests before they can legally be hired.
  • Drivers who fail to pass the substance test will not be eligible to be hired for driving positions.
  • Drivers who refuse to take the substance test will not be eligible to be hired for driving positions. They will, however, be eligible to be hired for positions that do not involve driving.
  • All test results or refusals to take tests will be reported to the database.

Every commercial driver’s employer will be required to review drivers’ records in the database before making decisions about hiring.

What can accident victims do?

If you have been involved in an accident involving a tractor trailer or large truck, you should seek help immediately. Talking to an attorney is an important first step.