Federal effort adds to state program to reduce impaired driving

The federal government is creating a database that is focused on reducing the instances of impaired driving among commercial drivers.

Residents in San Antonio will soon have additional support in the fight against drunk or drugged drivers of commercial vehicles. A truck accident caused by any factor including the presence of drugs or alcohol can result in serious injury to victims.

According to the local ABC affiliate, KSAT.com, the Texas Department of Public Safety has had established a program by which drug and alcohol offenses for commercially licensed drivers could be checked but the program lacked required reviews by employers. It also did not accommodate for screenings of drivers coming to Texas from other states.

A new program that is being spearheaded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will take the effort to a new level and span all states, increasing safety for all citizens and eliminating loopholes.

How will the federal program work?

The Commercial Carrier Journal explains that at the heart of the new program is a database currently in development. This database will be the reporting location of all drug and alcohol testing failures or refusals to partake in testing. Before an applicant can be considered for a driving position, the potential employer must first conduct a thorough review of that person's records in the database. Additionally, the candidate must sign to authorize testing for drugs and alcohol and then successfully pass the testing.

People who have chosen not to participate in the testing can only apply and be hired for positions that do not require the operation of a commercial motor vehicle. People who drive their own vehicles, called owner-operators, will have to hire outside entities to conduct the reviews.

Once drivers are successfully hired, their records must be reviewed each year by the employers to ensure ongoing compliance and safety.

How extensive is the problem?

Impaired driving among truckers is a serious problem around the country. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show an increase by 80 percent in the number of fatalities that resulted from truck accidents involving alcohol between 2011 and 2012. In 2011, 43 people died in such collisions in the United States. In 2012, that number rose to 80 people. The comparable increase for all drunk driving deaths was less than five percent.

What should Texas drivers do?

Any time that an accident happens, personal injury victims should seek help from an attorney as soon as possible. This is true regardless of the circumstances but is especially important when commercial vehicles, drunk drivers or both are involved.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury