Impaired driving among commercial drivers targeted

The federal government is developing a database and program to track impaired driving information about commercial truck and bus drivers.

Drunk or drugged driving is of great concern to all Illinois residents. Of equal concern are the dangers associated with large tractor-trailer accidents. Put the two together and the chances of serious injuries or even death can escalate quickly. That is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has begun work on a new process intended to crack down on impaired driving among commercial drivers.

The FMCSA is calling the program the Commercial Driver's License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and it is expected to be in use by early 2016 or possibly late 2015. The clearinghouse will center around a database into which all driver data regarding drug and alcohol testing or violations will be recorded.

What are the main components of the program?

Employers will be required to perform pre-employment screens through the database prior to bringing on any new drivers. All job candidates must also pass drug and alcohol testing. If drivers refuse to participate in this testing, those refusals will be noted in the database. Additionally, drivers who do not take the required tests will face limited working abilities.

No employer can view drivers' records without the express written consent of the drivers. After hiring new drivers, employers will be required to perform annual reviews of all employees on a more limited basis to ensure ongoing safety and good records.

Any commercial truck or bus driver who is convicted of drugged or drunk driving, including being at fault for a drunk driving accident will have such incidents logged into the clearinghouse. These records can be cleared over time and drivers can follow a detailed process to receive approval to return to duty. The system will also provide for a means by which inaccurate data may be deleted from the database.

The problem in Illinois

Traffic fatalities from alcohol-related accidents or truck accidents in Illinois accounted for more than 46 percent of all vehicular fatalities in 2012 based upon data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In Madison County, truck and drunk driving accidents were responsible for 42.5 percent of all automobile accident deaths that same year.

Madison County also had the third most number of drunk driving deaths among all counties in the state. These statistics highlight the importance of safeguarding the public against such accidents.

Know when to seek help

Persons who are involved in motor vehicle accidents with large trucks should always seek the help of an attorney, even if injuries are not readily apparent. The complexity of such incidents can grow quickly and securing the right assistance from the beginning is a critical way of staying protected.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury