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New Legislation will make it Easier for Truck Companies to Weed out Bad Drivers, Prevent Accidents

A new piece of legislation gives Georgia truck accident lawyers and families of victims who have died in accidents caused by drunk or pharmaceutically impaired truck drivers, plenty of cause for cheer. The legislation would set up a national database of commercial vehicle drivers’ alcohol and drug test results.

The legislation called The Safe Roads Act, has been introduced by Senators Mark Prior, D-Arkansas, Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska and Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi. It will authorize $5 million every year to develop the database, and mandate trucking companies and medical review officers to report positive drug and alcohol test results to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Employers will be required to check the database, and make sure that the driver they plan to hire, does not have a history of substance use.

Drug and alcohol testing is mandatory for commercial trucking companies. A company is required under law to conduct a drug test before a driver begins duty. In spite of this, far too many truck drivers continue to drive tractor trailers and buses after testing positive for drug and alcohol use. The system has too many loopholes to prevent such drivers from slipping through the cracks. For instance, a company could fail to verify the employee’s drug history. Applicants may not report their testing history accurately to new employers.

According to commercial driver data, the number of drivers who test positive for drugs in random testing is between 1.3 and 2.8 percent. That’s too large a number for truck accident lawyers to stomach. Too many motorists are placed at risk when there is a drunk driver at the helm of a tractor trailer.

Substance abuse by drivers is an important factor in trucking accidents. Truckers may use stimulants and poppers to stay awake for long hours. These stimulants, including Amphetamines and Methamphetamines, can cause a feeling of alertness and wakefulness among drivers, but can have serious side effects. There may be coordination problems that affect driving abilities. As the drug effects begin to wear off, the driver can slowly return to an even more fatigued state than he was in before he took the stimulants.

With a database like this, trucking companies in Georgia will have no excuse for hiring drivers without a clean record.