Drug and Alcohol Testing as Part of Trucking Regulations

Truck drivers are commercial drivers, and as such are required to pass higher-than-average standards when it comes to their operational fitness. This is because many truck drivers control large vehicles that may or may not contain hazardous materials, loads that are heavy enough to be dangerous when driving at high speeds, or simply be so big that they always pose a potential threat to smaller vehicles in their vicinity. Truck drivers need to be very good at what they do, always be alert, and be responsible when it comes to intoxicating substances.

As part of the trucking regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) as mandated by federal law, truck drivers are required to take drug and alcohol testing under the following circumstances:

  • Prior to hiring
  • Immediately after an accident
  • Return to duty after being suspended for prohibited alcohol use
  • Upon reasonable suspicion
  • Random and unannounced

These tests are typically saliva or breath testing as approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and in compliance with the procedures outlined in the 49 CFR Part 40 of the Department of Transportation. Employees who are found to have used alcohol and drugs in violation with trucking regulations are to be suspended immediately from safety-sensitive tasks i.e. driving a big rig. Employers are required to provide this information to the FMCSA to ensure compliance. According to the Williams Kherkher Truck Accident Resource Center website, trucking regulations involve not only the driver but the trucking company as well, and any attached liability for any accidents due to the use of alcohol and drugs by the truck driver.

If you are injured in a trucking accident, immediately engage a lawyer who is familiar with the trucking regulations pertaining to driver liability. If the driver fails to pass an alcohol and drug test immediately after the accident, you may have a clear basis for a personal injury lawsuit against the driver as well as the trucking company.

Federal Regulations on Truck Drivers and on Allowed Number of Hours of Driving

A cross-country drive on a big-rig (also known as a tractor-trailer, an 18-wheeler), transporting important cargo from manufacturer to distributor can be a really exhausting job, especially if it is done every day for, at least, 11 hours. This is why every 18-wheeler is designed with a sleeper berth area at the back of the truck cab to provide drivers a comfortable space where they can sleep, especially while on the road.

Drowsiness and fatigue are a driver’s worst concerns, most especially if he or she has a delivery schedule to follow; but even though late in schedule, disregarding the feeling of drowsiness and choosing to continue driving instead can result to a road tragedy that may either severely injure or kill other motorists or pedestrians on the road.

To guard against trucks serving as causes of road disasters, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the division of the US Department of Transportation that takes charge of trucking and transportation-related matters, has passed regulations on the maximum number of hours of service (HOS) commercial drivers can operate their vehicles. A few of these regulations mandate that drivers of trucks:

  • Ought to stop driving after rendering a 14-hour straight duty
  • Are permitted to drive for 11 hours maximum; these 11 hours are counted as part of their 14-consecutive-hour on-duty period
  • Should be allowed 10 consecutive hours of off-duty period after his or her 14-hour service

Besides this federal mandate on the maximum number of hours of service (HOS), 18-wheeler truck drivers are also required to undertake supplementary training and instructions on correct handling and operation of these types of vehicles – this is if they want to obtain a commercial driver’s license or CDL.

The Truck Accident Resource Center sponsored by Williams Kherkher, is one website that emphasizes the responsibility of trucking companies in ensuring a road safe from the dangers presented by trucks and reckless truck drivers. Aside from stating the federal law on HOS, the site also mentions that these companies should hire only those drivers who have acquired a commercial driver’s license and have passed all drug and alcohol tests.

Due to the very large size of trucks, the destruction these will cause in the event of an accident is equally disastrous. Getting the services of a seasoned accident or personal injury lawyer will be the best way to defend and fight for your interests and rights.