Can FMCSA’s Drug Test Database Prevent Truck Crashes?

Will the FMCSA drug test database save lives?The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is creating a new database with records of commercial drivers who have drug and alcohol violations. According to the FMCSA, the database will help motor carriers identify drivers guilty of substance abuse or testing violations that make them ineligible to operate a commercial motor vehicle. The new rule may help prevent truck crashes.

Under the new rule, motor carriers are required to check the database before hiring drivers. They are also required to run current drivers through the system at least once per year to see if they have acquired drug or alcohol violations. Employers and medical review officers (physicians trained to review lab or drug test results) must report drug and alcohol violations, including a refusal to test. Drivers must grant consent for these records to be released to employers.

The new database may prevent truck and bus crashes because it closes a major loophole. No centralized database has ever existed, so truckers guilty of drug and alcohol violations could switch companies or move to different states. With the FMCSA’s database, those days are over. Drug and alcohol violation information will remain in the database no matter how many times drivers switch employers or move to different states.

Do Impaired Commercial Drivers Cause Truck Crashes?

Several recent crashes show why FMCSA’s database is needed. In one case, a drunk commercial driver crashed his truck while trying to change his pants. No other motorists were injured. Earlier this month in Idaho, a commercial trucker high on meth hit and killed a man standing on the side of the road next to his vehicle. In Utah, a commercial trucker who tested positive for meth hit and severely injured two motorists.

If the FMCSA’s new database works, it may help prevent these types of crashes by identifying drivers who have current or past substance abuse problems. Drivers who test positive on drug tests must work with substance abuse professionals and follow a strict return-to-duty process.

The truck accident attorneys at Metier Law Firm, LLC can help survivors or their families hold trucking and bus companies accountable for causing accidents.