Government takes aim at commercial drunk drivers

In Richmond County alone, 30 percent of all deaths from automobile accidents in 2012 resulted from accidents involving either large commercial trucks or alcohol according to records collected and published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For the entire state of Georgia as a whole, the number is even higher with 38 percent of all fatalities in motor vehicle accidents happening in either truck accidents or drunk driving accidents.

Serious risks abound

Drunk driving accidents and large truck accidents individually can result in very serious consequences up to and including the wrongful death of innocent victims. When truck drivers operate large commercial vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the risks can be even greater.

Sadly, such stories can be found in all parts of the country. Some recent headlines include:

  • An 83-year old woman in the Midwest was taken to the hospital after being hit by a flatbed truck at an intersection. According to the WSBT.com story, the truck driver is believed to have been impaired by narcotics at the time of the accident.
  • A commercial truck driver has been charged with vehicular homicide and driving under the influence after rear-ending another vehicle and killing the driver inside per a LehighValleyLive.com story. The truck driver's blood alcohol level was almost three times higher than the legally allowable limit.
  • In Ohio, a truck driver has been charged with his third DUI after being witnessed driving erratically. His commercial driver's license has since been suspended according to the Sandusky Register.
  • In Orange County, California, KTLA provided details about the death of a man after his vehicle was hit by a tractor trailer. The driver of the truck continued driving after the crash and now faces vehicular manslaughter, felony hit and run and felony DUI charges.

The government's organization that oversees commercial transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is preparing to implement a new program designed with reducing impaired driving among operators in mind.

What are the main elements of the new program?

All commercial driver employers will be required to utilize the FMCSA's database to check driving records before selecting drivers to hire. Annual reviews will also be required once drivers have been hired. In addition, drivers must submit to substance testing before they can accept new driving jobs. The results of all tests must be provided to the database. Drivers who choose to abstain from testing can only be hired for non-driving roles.

Check with an attorney

Proactive steps like the new FMCSA program can be important ways to improve safety on the roads for all people. However, when accidents do happen, victims should always seek prompt legal assistance to ensure proper compensation.