Posted On: October 19, 2012 by Finch McCranie, LLP

Georgia Trucking Accidents: Pre-Employment Screening No Substitute for Adequate Drug Testing

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced an expanded version of its Pre-Employment Screening Program, which aims to give employers more information on a driver's safety record during the hiring process.

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys applaud the effort but realize it's a baby step in the right direction. These records will only be available with driver consent. A Pre-Employment Screening (PSP) record will show a three-year crash history and a five-year roadside inspection history for the driver in question. 1157750_optical_microscope_1.jpg

Unfortunately, PSP is a voluntary program; motor carriers are not even required to check the system before hiring a driver. Nor does the system contain a driver's record through the State Department of Motor Vehicles. This means violations in a private car, and perhaps even violations while driving commercially, may not show up in the database.

The system also does not permit employers to check the status of current drivers; the database is limited to pre-employment screening purposes and requires the written consent of the applicant.

We see already that the rights of the commercial driverseem to be the priority. Organizations like RoadSafe America have long pushed for a drug-testing database and other moves that would prevent bad truckers from jumping from job to job. Unfortunately, this program falls woefully short of that goal.

The American Trucking Association estimates more than 3.5 million truckers deliver 80 percent of all goods delivered to U.S. communities. There is currently a shortage of 30,000 drivers as that demand continues to expand. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports the number of registered trucks on the road has increased in the last decade, from 7.8 million to nearly 11 million.

More than 3,600 people a year are killed and 80,000 are seriously injured in accidents with large trucks -- in 75 percent of those cases the victim is a passenger of another vehicle involved in a crash with a large commercial truck or is a non-occupant, such as a bicyclist or pedestrian.

An investigation by NBC News several years ago found it's surprisingly easy to beat drug testing established to ensure drivers are not behind the wheel of a big rig while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), that's the watchdog arm of the federal government which routinely comes out with unflattering reports about Congress and other government programs, found that 75 percent of testing sites were unsecured. The agency used bogus truckers to gain access and often found easy access to water, soap, air freshner and other substances that could be used to dilute a urine sample.

The agency also bought drug-masking products over the Internet and was able to use them without getting caught at collection sites.

“Every drug masking product went undetected by the drug screening labs,” the GAO report said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation frequently reports that less than 2 percent of commercial drivers test positive each year for a controlled substance during a random federal drug test. However, a random enforcement effort conducted in Oregon found nearly 10 percent of truckers testing positive.

And even the government's 2 percent amounts to 30,000 tractor-trailer drivers who are testing positive each year.

Call the Atlanta accident lawyers at Finch McCranie LLP for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case. Call (800) 228-9159 or (404) 658-9070.