The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, of FMCSA, recently announced it was tightening its rules that restrict drivers with a history of drug or alcohol problems from operating commercial vehicles.
The new regulation will take effect in early November. The regulation require the several states, which issue commercial licenses, to take administrative action against a commercial driver’s license within 60 days of receiving notice that the driver failed an alcohol or drug test.
According to federal officials, the regulation is designed to prevent situations in which a state licensing agency does not know about a driver’s recent drug or alcohol violations.
Following a violation, a driver is supposed to be barred from operating commercial vehicles until he or she meets certain requirements. However, if a state does not know that it should revoke a driver’s commercial operating privileges, a driver with alcohol or drug problems can keep driving and thus may pose a hazard.
Another new policy will require the state agency to cross-check data which the FMCSA compiles on drivers who have drug or alcohol violations.
Trucking companies do need a robust drug and alcohol program
This new rule is an opportune time to remind shipping companies which contract with drivers that they need their own robust drug and alcohol policies. These companies do have some obligation to make sure contracted drivers operate sober, and they should consider implementing a system to detect and punish drug and alcohol violations.
That being said, trucking companies are not expected to account for all negligent or irresponsible behavior by the people with whom they do business, particularly when these people are contractors and not employees.
A commercial vehicle accident involving a drunk or drugged trucker is sad and concerning, but a company should be aware of its options before admitting responsibility.