The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a study last week showing that improvements in driver safety are available—if trucking companies are willing to take advantage. According to Truckinginfo.com, the FMCSA released results of an in-house study showing that its Pre-Employment Screening Program reduces serious accidents involving semi trucks as well as safety violations that take the driver out of service. The three-year-old PSP program allows prospective employers to look at a driver’s past history of federal inspections and crashes, using the FMCSA’s multi-year database of about 3.5 million records. The study also suggested that although PSP is voluntary, interest in it is growing, particularly among trucking companies using it to spot potential problems in drivers they are considering hiring.
The study compared crash rates and driver out-of-service violations for the 12 months before PSP’s launch in May of 2010 and 12 months after its launch. During that time, the study found, there were 35,000 PSP users making about 70,000 requests to the program per month. The vast majority—97 percent—were trucking companies, joined by a handful of bus companies and third-party employment screeners. Overall, the study found that those companies using PSP had a statistically significant 8 percent decrease in reported accidents, and a 17.2 percent decrease in driver out-of-service violations. Small (6-20 drivers) or midsized (21-100 drivers) companies both saw an even greater crash decrease of about 20 percent. Those companies also saw declines in driver out-of-service violations ranging from 10.1 to 18.3 percent.
I’m not surprised to learn that this program is popular among trucking companies, because it helps them spot problems that are major predictors of whether the company could later face a serious big rig accident lawsuit. PSP users told the study’s authors that they use it to spot lies on job applications, including omitted crashes or omitted previous employers. The records that concerned prospective employers the most were records showing speeding violations, falsified log books or failure of pre-trip inspections. All of these are employment violations in themselves, which could put off a responsible employer. But they also indicate that the driver is willing to place convenience above safety, which increases the chance of a serious accident that hurts the innocent motorists who share the interstates. And if companies know a driver isn’t safe, hiring him or her anyway can lead to liability for the trucking company in any crash that results.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we represent clients who have suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one because of a bad decision by a truck driver or a trucking company. As this post suggests, it’s very often both the trucker and the company, because companies have a legal responsibility to make sure their drivers are fit to operate a heavy vehicle. A tractor-trailer accident lawsuit can’t reverse the catastrophic effects of a crash, but it can help families deal with them. Injured people can recover money for all past and future medical care, compensation for lost abilities or loved ones gone forever, and sometimes damages designed to punish companies for placing profits ahead of safety.
If you’d like to talk to an experienced attorney about your situation and your legal rights, don’t hesitate to contact Carey, Danis & Lowe today for a free consultation. You can reach us through our website or call 1-877-678-3400 today.
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