New Federal Database will identify Drug and Alcohol-Impaired Truck Drivers

In 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that it was going to tackle the issue of impaired operation among commercial drivers head on. As noted by the Commercial Carrier Journal, the effort was referred to as the Commercial Driver's License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

The original plans outlined that it would be ready by the early part of 2016. A new estimate reported by OverdriveOnline.com notes that the database should be in effect by December 14, 2015.

How great is the need?

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that accidents involving 18-wheelers and other large trucks driven by impaired drivers leads to serious results indeed. In 2012, 80 people lost their lives in such crashes nationally. That number represents an 86 percent increase from the previous year.

It is also important to remember that alcohol is not the only substance that can cause impairment among drivers. Over-the-counter and prescription medications are also capable of reducing a driver's ability to safely operate a vehicle. Many catastrophic accidents have been caused by a drugged driver. Pharmaceutical manufacturers earlier this year received a communication from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration designed to improve the identification of drugs likely to cause impairment among drivers.

What are some of the elements of the new clearinghouse rule?

The FMCSA's clearinghouse rule relies heavily on a robust database that will act as a central repository for critical driver information. A comprehensive review of all drivers' records within the database will be required before a new hire can be finalized.

Trucking companies will be required to perform these database reviews. Individual owner-operators will be required to hire independent parties to conduct the reviews on their behalf. Other elements include the following:

  • Every new driver must pass alcohol and drug tests in order to be hired for new jobs.
  • The results of every driver's substance testing must be submitted to the database by the prospective employer.
  • If a driver does not wish to participate in the substance testing, that person will then only be eligible for hire in non-driving positions.
  • After an initial successful test and hire as a driver, employees' records must be reviewed by employers every year.

The goal of this effort is very clearly to limit the opportunity that commercial drivers have to operate large vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Safety and help are important

Any person who is involved in a crash involving a large truck should take action to get help and compensation properly. The best first step in this process is contacting an attorney.