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New hiring process for commercial drivers to launch in 2016

Pittsburgh area residents must share the roads with commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailers every day. From the Pennsylvania Turnpike to local surface streets, the dangers associated with an accident involving these large vehicles are real. Serious damages can result including both personal property damage as well as potentially life-altering injuries.

Truck accident causes

Truck accidents can be caused by a number of factors. Truck driver fatigue and driver distraction are two commonly heard of factors that impact these crashes. Impaired driving is also a concern. The United States Food and Drug Administration notes that drug use as well as alcohol consumption can impair driving function. In a recent move, the FDA provided input to pharmaceutical companies about how to determine which drugs may have such an impact on drivers.

The government takes action

In addition to efforts by the FDA regarding impaired driving among all drivers when taking prescription medication, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is working to reduce impairment by both drugs and alcohol among commercial drivers, including truckers. The Commercial Carrier Journal describes how the FMCSA hopes that a new pre-employment screening process will reduce the change of an impaired accident from occurring due to negligence of a commercial driver.

Among the new requirements, companies looking to hire new commercial drivers will be required to review the new FMCSA database that will provide details about drivers' records. A pre-employment screening for alcohol and drug use will also be required and employers must submit all test results to the database. Drivers will have the ability to abstain from testing but will then be ineligible for hire in any position that requires driving. The choice to refrain from testing must also be submitted to the database.

Drivers who operate their own vehicles must hire outside entities to conduct the required database reviews.

How many people are affected by impaired truck accidents?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records show that more than 9,800 fatalities resulted from crashes involving alcohol in 2011. In those accidents, truck drivers represented 43 of the impaired drivers.

The following year, the numbers rose. More than 10,300 fatalities resulted from all drunk driving crashes and truck drivers represented 80 of the impaired drivers. The increase in the number of truck drivers found to be under the influence of alcohol in fatal crashes rose by 86 percent from 2011 to 2012.

What can Pennsylvania residents do?

While the new screening can help to prevent some accidents, it is important for all people to be ready to take action if they are involved in a collision with a large truck. Consulting with an attorney is recommended in these situations.

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