The Safe Roads Act, a new trucking safety bill sponsored by Mark Pryor (D-AR) and John Boozman (R-AR), would tighten up the handling of truckers’ drug and alcohol tests. It would require medical review officers, employers, and service agents to report positive drug or alcohol test results to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
The bill would also mandate creation of a drug-test database for commercial drivers and require employers to check it prior to any hire. The database is the recommendation of the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
I have sued truck companies that have shown a shocking disregard for the drug laws. One gas tanker company I sued put a gas tanker driver back on the road after he tested positive for drugs. Another company I sued employed a driver with two convictions for crystal meth use. After the second conviction, the company stopped giving him required drug tests. The driver, while possessing and under the influence of crystal meth, later ran off the road and killed my client.
Drug and alcohol testing requirements do exist, but some truckers keep driving big rigs even after they test positive. Not all job applicants report their drug test history when seeking a job, not all carriers do full background checks, and some self-employed drivers just ignore the rules, according to a statement from Pryor. In recent studies, about 68,000 commercial drivers tested positive for drug use, out of a total of 3.4 million.
“Arkansas families’ safety is compromised every day by truck and bus drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” Pryor said. “We need to strengthen our current regulations to ensure these drivers can’t bypass the law. A national clearinghouse is a practical way to ensure that the commercial driving industry is selecting the safest drivers possible to operate their large trucks and buses.”