New program for commercial drivers targets improved safety

Commercially licensed drivers will soon be required to participate in substance testing before being hired and have all records reviewed annually.

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 2012 show that Dallas County was the location for more traffic deaths attributable to drunk driving and truck accidents than any other Texas county that year. Together, truck accidents and drunk driving accidents accounted for 48 percent of the county's total vehicular fatalities. Statewide, the two types of collisions accounted for nearly 55 percent of all motor vehicle deaths.

A potentially lethal combination

Fatigued or distracted driving among truckers can cause serious accidents. Driving a large tractor trailer or other commercial vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be a particularly dangerous combination.

This danger is reflected in many national headlines, such as the following:

  • Southern California's KTLA provided a report about a hit-and-run accident on a local freeway one night. A drunk truck driver hit another vehicle, killing its driver, yet continued driving until he hit another object. At this point, the truck driver left his vehicle and walked away but was apprehended by authorities. Felony criminal charges now face the truck driver for the accident.
  • In Pennsylvania, LehighValleyLive.com offered details of a truck driver found to have a high blood alcohol level after causing a multi-vehicle accident when he rear-ended another automobile. A 34-year old man lost his life in the crash.
  • An elderly woman was struck in an intersection by a flatbed truck being operated by a driver who was under the influence of narcotics at the time. The woman and the truck driver were reported by WSBT.com to have been taken to a nearby hospital.
  • According to a story in the Sandusky Register, the driver of a large truck was stopped by authorities for visibly reckless driving. His blood alcohol level was 0.256 percent. He was arrested on drunk driving charges. The arrest was his third impaired driving offense.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is aware of the problems associated with impaired driving and commercial drivers and is developing a new program and database to come into effect in the next year or so to help crackdown on this problem.

A new program aimed to help

The FMCSA is building a database that will collect and store driving information about all persons who hold commercial licenses. This includes DUI and related convictions and drug and alcohol testing. Employers will access this database before finalizing new hires and conduct annual reviews as well. In order to be hired for driving positions, people will first need to pass appropriate testing.

Other help is always available

When an accident does happen, injured persons or their representatives should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Proactive steps can go a long way toward securing the right level of compensation after such a tragedy.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury