Some Dangerous Truckers Could Lose Commercial Driving Privileges
Commercial trucks are significantly larger and heavier than most other vehicles on the road. This size and weight disparity means that collisions involving semi-trucks are more likely to result in serious injury or death, especially for drivers in smaller passenger vehicles.
Tractor-trailers also have longer stopping distances and limited maneuverability. That’s why commercial truckers are obligated to drive sober and follow numerous other rules and regulations to prevent crashes.
Recent FMCSA changes target potentially dangerous truckers
Recent changes are impacting commercial drivers in the United States, particularly those with a "prohibited" status in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse.
This marks the implementation of a new mandate, as per the FMCSA's second Final Rule (Clearinghouse-II), issued in October 2021. This rule directs State Driver’s Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) to withdraw commercial driving privileges from drivers flagged as "prohibited" in the Clearinghouse.
The rule necessitates a downgrade of the driver’s license until the individual successfully undergoes and completes the return-to-duty (RTD) process. This change is a significant step in reinforcing the FMCSA’s efforts to ensure safer roadways by preventing individuals with certain drug and alcohol violations from operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).
What roles does the Clearinghouse play in road safety?
The Clearinghouse plays a crucial role in regulating CMV operation. It serves as a real-time repository of records related to drug and alcohol violations of commercial drivers, including positive test results and refusals to undertake these tests.
The FMCSA’s first Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule has been effective since January 6, 2020. It already requires motor carriers to consult this database before hiring a driver and to conduct annual checks for their current drivers. This move aims to provide employers, law enforcement, and other relevant authorities with immediate access to a driver’s violation history.
The introduction of Clearinghouse-II further emphasizes the importance of maintaining a clean record in the Clearinghouse. Under this new regulation, a driver with a "prohibited" status is barred not only from operating a CMV on public roads but also risks losing their commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP).
This tightening of requirements underscores the FMCSA’s commitment to upholding high safety standards in the commercial driving sector.
Understanding the dangers of impaired truckers
Operating a commercial truck demands a high level of alertness, focus, and responsibility. Impaired truckers pose a significant risk to themselves and others on the road due to their diminished ability to make quick decisions, react to unforeseen situations, and maintain the safety of their massive vehicles.
The use of certain substances can impair a trucker's judgment and motor skills, making them a deadly hazard on the road. Here are some common substances truckers use and their effects:
- Impairs judgment and decision-making.
- Slows reaction times and coordination.
- Increases the risk of drowsiness and fatigue.
- Certain medications can cause drowsiness, dizziness, or impaired concentration.
- Mixing medications with alcohol or other substances can intensify these effects.
Illegal drugs (e.g., marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine)
- Alters perception and impairs cognitive function.
- Can lead to erratic behavior and reduced inhibitions.
- Diminishes reaction times and coordination.
- Some over-the-counter medications, like antihistamines, can cause drowsiness.
- Drowsiness can significantly affect a trucker's ability to stay alert on the road.
Know your legal rights if you’re injured in a truck accident
The implementation of Clearinghouse-II represents a significant step in ensuring that only qualified and compliant drivers are able to operate CMVs. This move is expected to contribute to safer roadways and more responsible management of commercial driving privileges across the United States.
While Clearinghouse-II will help reduce the number of impaired truck drivers on the road, the risk of serious and fatal truck accidents remains a significant issue. That’s why the Florida truck accident attorneys at Pajcic & Pajcic are committed to holding negligent truck drivers and trucking companies accountable when their negligence results in someone’s injury or death.
We’ve represented thousands of injured motorists and their families in Florida and nationwide. Our results include a $1 billion verdict for the family of a college student who died in a crash caused by two negligent truck drivers.
If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, our attorneys can help you demand justice and accountability. To review your potential legal options, contact us today for a free and confidential case evaluation.