Reducing drunk driving goal of new FMCSA proposed rule

The federal government will launch a new national program designed to reduce drunk and drugged driving among commercially licensed drivers.

The impact that drinking has on driving is well documented. Far too many motor vehicle accidents in Texas are caused by drivers who choose to get behind the wheel of vehicles after drinking too much. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 38 percent of the state's vehicular fatalities in 2012 were caused by drunk driving. In Dallas County that rate was 41 percent and in Kaufman County the number is even greater at 44 percent.

Accidents involving large trucks are also of great concern on area roadways. The size of tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles and disparity in weight can make the consequences of these collisions very severe. Nearly 17 percent of the state's accident fatalities resulted from truck accidents in 2012.

Together, truck accidents and drunk driving accidents accounted for 48 percent of all Dallas County accident deaths, 53 percent of all Kaufman County accident deaths and almost 55 percent of all statewide accident deaths in 2012. These numbers are a big part of the reason that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is working hard to implement new regulations designed to reduce impaired driving among commercial drivers.

What is the new program?

The proposed rules would establish the Commercial Driver's License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. At its heart is a comprehensive database that, as described by the Commercial Carrier Journal, will house driver information including impaired driving violations and substance test failures or refusals. This program will govern all persons holding commercial drivers' licenses.

Employers will be required to consult the database before hiring new drivers and also to conduct annual audits of drivers' records. Additionally, employers who have knowledge of a drunk driving-related citation must also report that information to the clearinghouse.

Drivers that choose not to participate in drug or alcohol testing will only be allowed to work in non-driving jobs. If convicted of drugged or drunk driving offenses, drivers must complete a specific return-to-duty process before once again being allowed to operate commercial vehicles.

Keeping Texans safe

Reducing the opportunity for commercial drivers to get behind the wheel of large vehicles when drunk or otherwise impaired is an important step in preventing many of the serious accidents that claim lives or cause injuries to innocent victims. Anyone who has been involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, a suspected drunk driver or both should contact an attorney to get help. Victims of such accidents deserve proper justice and compensation and legal help is critical to receiving both.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury