Federal Agency Seeks to Set Up Alcohol/Drug Clearinghouse for Truck Drivers

As more tractor trailers fill the nation’s roadways, Illinois motorists are more at risk of becoming involved in a tragic commercial truck accident. Many Winnebago County truck accident attorneys know that drowsy, distracted and impaired truck drivers pose a risk to motorists on the road. Last year, the FMCSA proposed a new rule that would create a national database where law enforcement, employers and other officials could find vital truck driver information.

The drug and alcohol clearinghouse

The national clearinghouse database would include essential data regarding the drug and alcohol test results of each commercial driver in the country. Substance abuse professionals, FMCSA-regulated bus and trucking companies, medical review officers and private U.S. Department of Transportation laboratories would be required to submit the following information to the national database, if the proposed rule passes.

  • Drivers who refuse to participate in an alcohol or drug test.
  • Drivers who fail an alcohol or drug test.
  • Drivers who complete a qualified substance abuse program and are able to reestablish their driving responsibilities.

In order to protect the privacy of truck drivers, employers would need to get the driver’s consent before they would be able to search the database. Truck drivers who refuse to give their consent may still be able to work at a trucking company; however, they would not be able to operate a commercial truck. This information could be used to prosecute negligent truck drivers and trucking companies, as Winnebago County truck accident attorneys know.

Drug and alcohol testing requirements

According to the FMCSA, current regulations require all trucking companies to perform a screening of each potential trucker’s driving record before they are hired. Yet, there is not a go-to national catalog that agencies can use to share information about commercial driver’s license holders. Commercial trucking companies are also required to perform random alcohol tests to at least 50 percent of their drivers and drug tests to a minimum of 10 percent of their drivers on a regular basis.

In addition to employer testing, state and federal safety inspectors have performed at least 3.5 million roadside checks of commercial vehicles and their drivers randomly, to ensure they are in compliance with federal safety standards. In 2012, 4.89 percent of all truck drivers were removed from service when FMCSA roadside inspections found that they had too many violations on their record, including drinking and driving.

In 2012, devastating accidents involving large trucks killed 3,802 people and injured approximately 104,000 people nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In Illinois alone, 115 lives were lost from large truck collisions. A substantial number of these accidents were caused by commercial truck operators who were driving while drunk or otherwise impaired by drugs. The FMCSA and many Winnebago County truck accident attorneys hope that this new database will prevent catastrophic truck accidents and save lives in the process