For years, government officials in charge of providing road safety have been attempting to create a database of commercial truck drivers who have failed drug and alcohol tests. And despite strong opposition from truck drivers, that database will soon go live.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has been researching this issue for a long time, and in May, finally sent the new proposal to the White House for President Obama’s final approval.
Groups such as the Truck Safety Coalition and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) support the proposal.
“Drivers who have previously violated drug and alcohol testing, and especially those who are repeat violators, pose a significant risk to the driving public,” stated the Truck Safety Coalition in a statement sent to USDOT.
MADD also believes that the database would make roads safer, because it would prevent dangerous drivers who have been previously fired for substance abuse, from signing on with another truck company.
The database would list all commercial truck drivers who failed a drug or alcohol test, but would also include drivers who refused to take these tests.
The USDOT said that the database would also help truck company owners conduct background checks.
“The issue you have is that truck carriers don’t always have the complete information about a prospective employee,” stated Amy Witherite, partner at Eberstein & Witherite, which has offices in Texas. “So this database could simplify the process of hiring, because truck company owners can use it as another tool to determine if a full background check is needed on a prospective hire.”
Truck carriers have backed the idea of a national database, because it would likely lower the number of truck accidents – which costs them money – and protect them from the liability that results when one of their drivers causes a wreck due to drug or alcohol use.
Rob Abbott, Vice President of Safety Policy at the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the leading truck industry member organization, echoes this sentiment.
“Motor carriers support it, because they want to hire safe, qualified drivers, and they need full and complete histories of prospective drivers to do that,” Abbott stated.