Safety focus of new trucker clearinghouse rule

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will be creating a new database to collect and monitor drug or alcohol convictions among truckers.

Residents in and around Anchorage, Alaska must already face some of the harshest road conditions due to extreme weather of any group in the nation. Add to that the dangers that can exist when tired, distracted or drunk drivers are behind the wheels of large tractor-trailers and the risks of being involved in serious injury accidents becomes very high.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 2012 show that statewide, truck accident fatalities accounted for less than seven percent of all motor vehicle deaths. In the municipality of Anchorage, more than 8.3 percent of all vehicular fatalities happened in truck crashes.

New database to track trucker drug and alcohol activity

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the governing body that oversees all trucker regulations. It is also the entity that commonly leads the way with new laws to improve safety. As reported by the Commercial Carrier Journal, the FMCSA will be creating a database to act as a clearinghouse with the purpose of housing and reporting on alcohol or drug convictions and other information.

Formally known as the Commercial Driver's License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, this database is targeted to be set up by late 2015 or early 2016. Some of the key features of this process will include:

  • Driver drug or alcohol test failures must be reported.
  • Driver refusals to participate in alcohol or drug testing must be reported.
  • Driver convictions for alcohol or drug offenses must be reported.
  • Drivers must provide consent in written form before employers or potential employers can search records.
  • New hires cannot be completed without a full record review.
  • Annual record reviews will be required as well.

Anyone responsible for operating commercial vehicles will be bound by these guidelines. Trucking companies as well as owner-operators must use the database and follow all instructions.

Broad support noted

Many professional organizations including the Truck Safety Coalition and the American Trucking Association have been noted to support the FMCSA's development of the clearinghouse as long as provisions are included that protect trucker data and fair treatment. This includes processes for removing information that may be inaccurate or for allowing truckers to have a return-to-duty option.

Keeping the public safe

The clearinghouse may well be able to reduce the number of truck accidents that happen but it is unlikely to eliminate all risk to Anchorage residents. Anyone involved in a large truck collision should contact an attorney to learn what steps should be taken to receive protection.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury