Illegal drugs are found in more than 40 percent of truck drivers for whom test results are available, according to a 2015 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association. However, several factors prevent many trucking companies in New York and across the U.S. from receiving any notification that a driver has previously been arrested on drug charges.
One of the issues is a lack of communication between federal and state agencies. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates drug testing in the commercial trucking industry. CDL drivers undergo drug testing before they receive their licenses, when they are involved in an accident or get a traffic citation, when someone reports them under a reasonable suspicion and at random. However, there is no federal stipulation that state agencies inform trucking companies of truckers’ drug or alcohol arrests.
While the truckers themselves are required to notify their employers, this can often be bypassed. Even state motor vehicle agencies are not obliged to communicate with each other, which means that a charge may not even appear on the driver’s record. By protecting patient privacy, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act can also prevent companies from being notified.
This is especially worrying since the opioid crisis has led to major addiction issues across the nation. When a truck accident occurs due to drug impairment, both the trucker and trucking company can be held liable for any damages. The victim could hire a lawyer, who in turn can hire investigators to review the trucker’s history and dig up records of any previous arrests. Even when companies are uninformed, they may have been negligent in other ways. The lawyer can then negotiate for a reasonable settlement.