Recently, in the news was a story about a trucker who was intoxicated while driving a big rig and who endanger the community by getting behind the wheel of a big truck drunk.
While the incidence of intoxicated truck drivers or truck drivers under the influence of drugs are not a very high percentage compared to passenger cars, the danger posed by a commercial vehicle being operated by an intoxicated or one under the influence of drugs cannot be overstated.
The rules that apply to commercial truck drivers expressly provide a section regarding alcohol and drug use. While these rules may seem to be common sense, they were also very specific that the Department of Transportation has a zero tolerance factor for drivers who take risks by drinking and driving.
Big rig drivers must comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations which provide consequences for drivers using alcohol and driving but also providing for obligations on the part of the “motor carrier” to provide policies concerning alcohol and controlled substances. Section 382 is the general section dealing with controlled substances and alcohol use in testing under the FMCSR.
The regulations set forth that no driver shall report for duty or be on duty when performing safety sensitive functions while having an alcohol concentration of .04 or greater. Further, the employer who has actual knowledge of a drinking employee, as set forth above shall permit the driver to continue to perform safety sensitive functions.
Each truck driver is tested in pre-employment testing prior to the time the driver will actually drive a big rig for the company. Additionally, motor carriers are required to implement random testing subject to some limitations as provided in the regulations.
One of the developments of the regulations has been the requirement of a “reasonable suspicion testing where the motor carrier has a reason to suspect that the driver has engaged in prohibited conduct.
After a very serious semi truck accident, testing is usually required of the semi truck driver and the company is required to retain such tests under the regulations. In short, the federal regulations are very specific and comprehensive when it comes to drivers who may choose to drink or take illegal drugs.
The burden is not only on the truck driver but also the trucking company to make sure that the drivers under their banner are safe drivers and not endangering the community through drug use or alcohol consumption while driving.
There are many different cases where a truck driver under the influence of alcohol and drugs has devastated many families in a single accident. Regulating the improper use of drugs and alcohol by truck drivers is one step that is necessary to keep our community safe.