An employer can’t claim it didn’t know about driver’s past safety violations
Employers cannot blindly hire truckers without reviewing their work history and safety record.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has detailed regulations to help prevent unqualified drivers from being hired. This minimizes the possibility that a driver jumps from job to job to hide his history of crashes, safety violations, drug and alcohol use, medical issues, or other problems that create dangerous driving conditions.
As an injury lawyer, I see companies failing to follow FMCSA regulations.
What records does the company have to have?
Part 391.51, Record Retention & Recordkeeping Requirements, mandates that these items must be in the driver’s qualification file:
- Pre-employment questionnaire
- Certificate of road test (if no road test was passed when CDL was obtained)
- Annual reviews
- Documentation if medical exemption (if any)
Drug and alcohol test results for drivers performing safety sensitive functions
Transportation employees engaged in safety sensitive functions are subject to drug and alcohol testing. A safety-sensitive function refers to everything the driver does during the entire time the driver is ready to start or starts work until she or he is relieved from responsibility for performing work.
Testing occurs after an accident in which the employee received a traffic citation and somebody died or was injured or a vehicle was so badly damaged as to require a tow.
In addition, testing occurs randomly and whenever the employer has a reasonable suspicion that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The employer must also test drivers who return to work after testing positive or refusing to submit to the test and in intervals during the next year.
Positive testing results fall within the scope of the pre-employment investigation, regardless of when the testing occurred. This includes all tests that indicated a blood alcohol concentration of .04 percent and higher and every time the driver refused to submit to the test.
Recovery from negligent motor carrier companies
A motor carrier company may be held vicariously liable for its driver’s negligent actions. Furthermore, the trucking corporation may be held liable for regulatory violations. The company cannot claim it didn’t know about a driver’s poor driving history and cannot simply put its head in the sand. If it failed to properly conduct a pre-employment investigation, the company can be held liable for crash injuries and deaths caused by a driver with a poor safety record, even if the issues occurred during prior employment.
Most importantly, these pre-employment investigation regulations weed out dangerous drivers, making the roads safer for all of us.
A personal injury lawyer will subpoena the company’s records and take the deposition of the driver, safety manager and other company officials to determine whether the driver was qualified to be in the tractor-trailer in the first place. He will also determine if other governmental rules and regulations were violated.