287 unsafe bus and truck drivers are removed from the road due to Agency’s investigations
On June 25, 2012 the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that 287 commercial bus and truck drivers were removed from the roads and more than 128 companies face enforcement actions as a result of the agency’s annual drug and alcohol strike force sweep that occurred from April 30 through May 11, 2012. This initiative is a part of a broader effort to ensure truck and bus safety across the country.
According to Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation Secretary, “Safety is our number one priority. Our message is clear – we will not allow commercial bus and truck drivers operating under the influence of drugs and alcohol to stay on the road,”
LaHood urges “All drivers and their passengers deserve to be confident that bus and truck drivers are safe and sober.”
During the sweep which lasted two weeks, nearly 200 federal investigators examined the drug and alcohol safety records of commercial drivers employed by bus and truck companies. This included school bus drivers, interstate passenger carriers, hazardous material transporters and general freight long-haul trucking companies. Their goals were to identify motor carriers in violation of federal drug and alcohol testing requirements and to remove from the road commercial truck and bus drivers who jump from carrier to carrier to evade federal drug and alcohol testing and reporting requirements.
“Removing these dangerous drivers from the roads helps save lives and sends a strong signal that we will not tolerate negligent commercial drivers and companies that violate federal alcohol and drug safety standards,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro.
The 287 commercial drivers identified in the sweep face the prospect of a monetary fine and being barred from operating a commercial motor vehicle for failing to adhere to federal drug and alcohol regulations. Additionally, 128 truck and bus companies face pending enforcement actions for violations, such as using a driver who has tested positive for illegal drugs and for not instituting a drug and alcohol testing program. Both drivers and carriers will have an opportunity to contest the alleged violations and the amount of the civil penalties.
Though this is a great start, some critics argue that there are many small vehicle passenger carriers (mini bus, limousine and vans) who are also guilty of non-compliance with the drug laws. Perhaps USDOT, should continue this initiative by “sweeping” small passenger carrier drivers.
In addition, during the month of May 2012 the FMCSA carried out an unprecedented bus safety sweep, shutting down 26 unsafe bus operations that transported over 1,800 passengers a day along Interstate 95.