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The Greenville News

New Database in Development to Improve Trucking Safety

Patrick E. Knie

The federal government has approved the creation of a new database to track drug and alcohol testing and violations among commercial drivers.

Residents in South Carolina know that there is always a risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident when on the road. The nature and severity of every accident is unique but any accident that involves large trucks such as 18-wheelers can pose special risks to victims. The sheer size and weight of these vehicles can make trucking accidents some of the most deadly.

Many factors such as fatigue or driver distraction can contribute to truck crashes. The use of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs, can also impact commercial drivers' abilities to operate their vehicles safely. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration takes concerns about impaired driving among drivers with commercial licenses seriously and is currently developing a new database intended to help improve safety in this crucial area.

Dangers Abound Around the Nation

Information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration makes it all too clear to see that the risk of serious accidents involving impaired drivers and large trucks deserves attention. Some of the information includes:

  • In 2011, 9,865 people died in drunk driving accidents in the United States.
  • Of those fatalities, 43 resulted from drunk driving accidents involving large trucks.
  • In 2012, a total of 10,322 people died in drunk driving accidents in the United States.
  • Of the 2012 fatalities, 80 resulted from drunk driving accidents involving large trucks.

The increase in drunk driving deaths overall from 2011 to 2012 was 4.6 percent. However, the increase in drunk driving deaths in truck accidents from 2011 to 2012 was 80 percent.

How Will the Clearinghouse Work?

The Commercial Carrier Journal describes the key elements of the clearinghouse database, expected to be in use fully by the beginning of 2016. At the heart of the effort will be the database that acts as a central repository for key information about commercial drivers. This will include drug or alcohol test failures and refusals as well as impaired driving arrests and convictions.

Before a driver can be hired for a new position, a substance test must be successfully passed. If a driver opts not to participate in such testing, only non-driving jobs will be made available. Annual reviews must also be conducted of all drivers. Drivers who own their own vehicles will need to outsource record reviews.

The Goal Is Clear

The government is aiming directly at reducing the number of impaired commercial drivers on the roads. People in South Carolina who are involved in any truck accident should always seek assistance from a lawyer.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury