New pre-hire process for commercial drivers

In 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will launch a new database and pre-hire screening requirements for commercial drivers.

Most residents who live in and around Columbus are aware of how serious drunk driving or drugged driving accidents can be. From life-altering injuries to death, the consequences that can result from these senseless and preventable collisions can leave victims and their family members suffering for a lifetime.

While any impaired driving crash has the potential to be deadly, those that involve very large vehicles can be of even greater concern. An 18-wheeler, a commercial bus or other oversized truck has the potential to cause more damage due to its size and weight. For this reason, the federal government is creating a new database and associated requirements for the pre-hire screening of all commercial drivers.

What is being done?

The effort is being led by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and is expected to be ready for implementation sometime in early 2016. The goal is to be alerted to problems associated with substance use among drivers before an accident happens.

A robust database will collect information pertinent to the drug or alcohol use and testing for all people holding commercial drivers' licenses. Then, before employers can hire new drivers, a review of candidates' records from the database must take place. Additionally, people applying for commercial driving jobs must pass appropriate substance testing. Employers will be required to submit all drug and alcohol test results to the database to be part of drivers' records.

Job candidates will have the ability to abstain from the substance testing but then they will not be able to be hired for driving positions. This is an integral part of how the FMCSA intends to reduce the number of commercial drivers who operate under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Equal focus on drugs and alcohol

It is important to note that the FMCSA's requirements focus just as much on drug use as on alcohol use. It is well documented that both illegal and prescription drugs can diminish a person's ability to drive a motor vehicle safely. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently working with pharmaceutical companies to improve the identification of which of their drugs can lead to impairment among drivers.

How extreme is the problem?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 43 of the drivers in all of the nation's drunk driving accidents in 2011 were operating large trucks. The following year, in 2012, that number jumped to 80. This is a trend that nobody wants to see continue.

What else can be done?

One of the most important things for people to know is that they deserve help when accidents happen. Anyone involved in a crash involving a commercial vehicle should contact an attorney promptly.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury