In an effort to curb drunk driver accidents, the federal government recently took 109 big rig and bus drivers off the roads and initiated enforcement actions against 175 carriers.
In a statement, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood issued a stern warning to truck drivers and carriers: "If you are a commercial driver or carrier operating in violation of federal drug and alcohol laws, we will remove you from our roadways."
For failing to live up to the federal government's alcohol and drug regulations, the large truck and bus drivers face fines and the prospect of losing their commercial driver's licenses.
Current rules stipulate that commercial truck drivers can't operate an 18-wheeler or tractor trailer under the following conditions:
- If they have a blood alcohol content of .02 percent or higher
- If they have used alcohol in the four hours prior to driving
- If they refuse an alcohol breath or blood test
LaHood promises more alcohol and drug sweeps, as well as an overall tightening of enforcement with new trucking industry regulations coming in November.
That's when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration begins intensive tracking of carriers and drivers based on the following criteria:
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Unsafe driving (including traffic violations for reckless driving or speeding)
- Fatigued driving (exceeding on-road hours)
- Driver fitness (medical disqualifications; license violations)
- Vehicle maintenance (including brake or lights violations)
- Failure to secure cargo (improper loading; improper handling of hazardous materials)
- Crash history
Based on these criteria, the agency will ban drivers or declare carriers unfit for service on the nation's highways. Using new tracking technologies, the agency hopes to lower the number of trucking crashes resulting in injuries or fatalities.