In the aftermath of a serious or even fatal bus accident, both state and federal investigators will work tirelessly to determine what exactly transpired and whether the actions of the bus operator somehow contributed to the crash.
Specifically, they will seek to uncover whether the bus operator was driving recklessly, driving distracted, and/or driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
In fact, it is worth noting that the takes the U.S. Department of Transportation takes the issue of impaired driving very seriously. Indeed, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration subjects all bus operators to very specific drug and alcohol regulations.
Who exactly is subject to the FMCSA's drug and alcohol regulations?
In general, all commercial driver licensed (CDL) employees tasked with operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) -- those vehicles whose gross vehicle weight rating is over 26,000 or carrying more than 16 passengers -- on public roadways must submit to the FMCSA's drug and alcohol testing program.
Are prospective bus operators subject to this testing?
Yes. The FMCSA regulations dictate all new bus operators must pass a drug test before they can take CMVs out on public roads. As for alcohol testing, the regulations hold that it is permissible provided it applies to all operators, not just prospective hires.
What about random drug and alcohol testing?
The FMCSA regulations allow for both random drug and alcohol testing of bus operators.
As far as drug testing is concerned, a bus operator can be ordered to submit to a test at any time, including during their off-duty hours spent in the comfort of their own home.
Things are somewhat different concerning alcohol, as random testing for alcohol can only take place immediately before or after a bus operator goes on-duty, or while they are actually on-duty.
We will continue to examine this topic in future posts, including the other types of testing to which bus operators and other CDL drivers are subject, and the types of testing procedures performed.
If the negligence of a bus operator or bus company has left you with serious personal injuries or caused the loss of a loved one, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about your options.