Truckers to face new substance testing guidelines

The FMCSA is taking action to reduce accidents among commercial drivers due to drunk or drugged driving and hopes to improve safety.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration collects and houses a variety of traffic-related data. Statistics regarding motor vehicle accidents that involved large commercial trucks, such as 18-wheelers, or drunk drivers are among the information tracked by the NHTSA. In California, the NHTSA reports that nearly 37 percent of all vehicular deaths in the state happened in accidents impacted by alcohol or large trucks.

In the greater Bay area, San Francisco County itself had an even higher rate of fatalities connected to truck accidents or drunk driving accidents with almost 38 percent of such deaths attributed to those factors. In San Mateo County, the rate was approaching 29 percent and in Alameda County, it was just over 26 percent.

Not just in San Francisco

Problems related to drunk driving accidents or truck crashes extend far beyond the San Francisco locale. A quick online search of news headlines makes it easy to see that these challenges are experienced all around the country. Some stories are:

  • A truck driver hit another vehicle, killing its driver, on a freeway in Southern California. According to KTLA, the trucker continued driving and was later apprehended by authorities on foot. He has been charged with felony criminal charges in the case.
  • A flatbed truck driver struck a vehicle operated by an elderly driver, sending both of them to the hospital in Indiana, according to WSBT.com.
  • A man lost his life when struck from behind by a trucker with a blood alcohol content considered to be very high. LehighValleyLive.com indicated that upon the initial impact from the rear, the vehicle that was hit was also pushed into the vehicle in front of it.
  • A third impaired driving charge now faces a trucker in Ohio as noted by the Sandusky Register. His truck was stopped due to reckless driving.
  • Our firm has also seen a number of cases involving drug use, particularly amphetamine use, by drivers who are forced to drive odd hours and long shifts between rest.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration takes these situations seriously and understands the risks to the general public. For this reason, the agency is working to institute a new method of reducing impaired driving among truckers.

What are the changes?

One of the biggest changes will be the requirement to pass substance testing prior to being hired for new driving jobs. Additionally, all records should be reviewed annually by employers to ensure ongoing safety. DUI or related convictions will be reported to the database.

Legal help makes a difference

When faced with an accident involving an impaired driver or a truck driver-or both-victims should always consult with an attorney. Getting the right advice in these situations can make a big difference.