Reducing Truck Accidents: Screening Tool Helps Identify Unsafe Truckers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is an arm of the Department of Transportation that regulates commercial trucks, buses, and other large vehicles on America’s roads. One of the vital services this agency provides is a pre-employment screening program, which gives trucking companies information about a driver’s history of crashes and serious safety violations.

The objective is to encourage commercial carriers to conduct thorough background checks of drivers prior to hiring them in order to keep unsafe drivers off the road.

Truck accidents remain a serious problem in Virginia. A total of 85 people died in truck accidents involving tractor trailers and other large trucks in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Most of those killed were occupants of other vehicles, regardless of who was at fault.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been beefing up safety requirements for commercial truckers and bus drivers. The pre-employment screening program is part of a nationwide strategy to regulate, educate, and investigate commercial transportation operations, especially companies and drivers that downplay or ignore safety recommendations.

The agency charges trucking companies $10 for each driver report, which is drawn from the Motor Carrier Management Information System. This system tallies commercial vehicle accidents and safety inspection information. The pre-employment screening report includes wrecks in which a commercial driver was involved, regardless of who was at fault.

The agency has stepped up safety controls on the trucking industry in response to fatal trucking. The number deaths and injuries in truck collisions increased by more than 8 percent in 2012, with 697 people killed and 25,000 injured, according to NHTSA.

A rule that went into effect in July 2013 changed the hours of operation rules for truck and bus drivers to reduce fatigued driving accidents among commercial carriers. The change limits drivers to 70 hours behind the wheel on a weekly basis and requires truckers to take more frequent breaks. The agency estimates that the new rules will prevent 1,400 commercial vehicle accidents and more than 550 auto crash injuries each year.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also requires employers to conduct drug screenings of drivers to prevent drunk- and drugged-driving crashes. The frequency of commercial truck crashes caused by fatigued, distracted, drunk, or drugged drivers shows the seriousness of the battle that the federal agency and the commercial transport industry are fighting.

People harmed in truck accidents should understand their legal options. You may have a legal right to seek compensation from the trucking company.