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Impaired Operation Among Commercial Drivers a Concern

Recent stories confirm need for federal government’s new clearinghouse rule for impaired operation among commercial drivers.

Last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration approved the development of a new effort targeted at reducing impaired operation among truckers and other drivers licensed to operate commercial vehicles. This will impact drivers who operate in Oklahoma and all other states.

According to the Commercial Carrier Journal, the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule was targeted for full implementation in the late part of 2015 or early 2016. OverdriveOnline.com recently reported that the FMCSA scheduled a launch of the database on December 14, 2015.

Recent stories highlight the need

Across the nation, the dangers of drunk driving or drugged driving among truckers can be seen. In Vermont, a man awaits a court date for late May after his involvement in a suspected drug-impaired accident. The trucker drove his vehicle off of the interstate according to the Burlington Free Press. The impairment is believed to have stemmed from the driver’s use of an over-the-counter stimulant coupled with fatigue.

In Florida, a 27-year old Oregon-based trucker has been arrested on DUI charges related to his alleged involvement in a hit-and-run accident along Interstate 75. Gainsville.com reports that after failing field sobriety tests, the man’s blood alcohol content was found to be at least 0.137 percent.

Statistics corroborate the need

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, collisions with semi-trucks or other large trucks operated by drunk drivers led to the death of 43 people in 2011. In 2012, the number of deaths attributed to these circumstances rose to 80.

Drugs and alcohol of equal concern

Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration initiated an effort with pharmaceutical companies to better identify which products could cause impaired driving function. The FMCSA’s database and rule will target impairment by drugs as well as by alcohol.

What are some key parts of the new rule?

A large part of the changes will focus on the pre-hire screening process for drivers. Some specific requirements include the following:

  • Commercial driving employers must review all candidates’ records in the database before finalizing a new hire.
  • Driving job candidates must pass substance testing before being able to drive commercially.
  • All substance test results must be reported by potential employers to the database. This includes failures as well as passes and becomes a part of drivers’ records.

Employers are also required to annually review drivers’ records for ongoing safety.

What should Oklahoma residents do?

Tulsa residents should be aware of the changes that are being made to improve safety on the roads. However, the risk of impaired driving among commercial drivers could still lead to serious accidents. If this happens, victims are urged to seek legal help immediately.