How will FMCSA target fatigue and impairment?

Truck driver fatigue and substance abuse remain as two issues facing the trucking industry today.

Residents in and around Ocala, Florida, know how hard it can be to safely share the roads with tractor-trailers and similar large commercial vehicles. Accidents involving large trucks can be extremely dangerous and leave victims suffering from serious if not life-threatening injuries. Truck accidents can be caused by many factors. Two common factors are truck driver fatigue and impaired driving.

What is the answer to truck driver fatigue?

The long hours that a trucker spends behind the wheel can be tiresome. Added to that is the fact that many of those hours are in the dark and in solitude. These realities can exacerbate fatigue and make regular breaks important. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration updated its rules surrounding drivers' rest times at the start of 2013. The purpose for the update was to limit fatigue in drivers.

Despite a worthy goal, not everyone supported the change. The level of controversy took the issue to the U.S. Congress, notes Supply Chain Digest. The FMCSA was ordered to stay the rules and given until September 30, 2015, to further study the impact they would have. As the September date nears, OverdriveOnline.com indicates that sufficient data has yet to be had. This could push the length of the stay out even further.

How problematic is substance abuse among truckers?

For some time, the FMCSA conducted random substance tests at a 50 percent rate. This would have ended but according to Bulk Transporter, the rate of positive results has led to a continuation of the 50 percent random testing rate at least through the end of 2015.

At the same time, the Commercial Carrier Journal notes that the agency is developing a new database that will house substance abuse and testing information for all drivers with commercial licenses. This database will be utilized for pre-hire screenings and annual reviews. All job applicants will have to undergo drug and alcohol testing before they can be hired. If they refuse, they cannot work in jobs where safety is directly impacted.

Looking to the future

The FMCSA is currently looking for its recently nominated leader to be confirmed. This person will replace the leader who resigned last year, according to Transport Topics. In the meantime, truck accidents can and will still happen. When they do, Florida victims deserve compensation. Working with an attorney is an important way to obtain the right amount of compensation, and seeking legal help should be done immediately following a crash.