Criminal charges filed against trucker who killed mom

Impairment by drugs and alcohol is just one of the safety issues facing the trucking industry today.

A commercial semi-truck driver has officially been charged with multiple criminal offenses in the death of a 31-year old woman. 11alive.com reports that the incident occurred in on Highway 41 in Emerson and impairment due to drugs is suspected on the part of the driver.

Because the trucker had gotten out of the tractor-trailer without putting on the emergency brake, the truck was able to roll away unattended. It smashed into a passenger vehicle carrying a family of four. The mother was killed and both children remain in serious condition in a local hospital. The husband was treated but released from the hospital for his injuries.

Not an unusual situation

As tragic as the above trucking accident was, perhaps the most somber reality is that it is not a unique incident. According to Bulk Transporter, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been conducting random drug and alcohol tests of drivers. This random testing could have ceased but the FMCSA recently announced its intent to continue the practice. The reason for the decision is the increasing number of failed substance tests.

While random driver substance tests will remain, the FMCSA is also working to develop a new pre-hire process targeted at screening drivers for drug or alcohol use. The Commercial Carrier Journal explains that all employers will be required to review drivers' records in the database prior to completing hiring processes. Additionally, any driver who refuses to submit to substance tests before being hired will not be allowed to work in a driving role.

Fatigue another serious safety concern

Along with substance use, truck driver fatigue is a known risk factor for accidents involving large trucks. The FMCSA has been seeking ways to address this issue for some time. In 2013, the agency instituted new rules governing the working and rest periods for all commercially licensed drivers. These rules, however, received significant backlash within the industry.

According to Supply Chain Digest, the controversy has led the U.S. Congress to issue a stay on the rules until the FMCSA completes further studies into the impact of the changes. This was originally expected to happen by the end of September 2015. OverdriveOnline.com notes that the stay could be extended beyond that date if sufficient information has not yet been received.

Safety continues to be a concern

As the FMCSA looks to confirm a new leader as its prior leader resigned in 2014, safety will no doubt be one of the topics to face. In the meantime, all residents in Georgia should know that they have the right to compensation after a truck accident occurs. It is recommended that victims work with an attorney as soon as possible when this happens.