Could New FMCSA Fees Increase Highway Dangers or Lower Them?

Truck Accident Lawyers

Beginning in 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will charge trucking companies a fee for every driver they hire or employ. Meant to ensure compliance with regulations banning drivers who test positive for drugs or alcohol, this new rule could have the unintended outcome of leading companies to hire fewer drivers.

This increases the burden on existing drivers. With longer hours and more deliveries to make, a spike in accidents becomes a very real concern.

Why is the FMCSA Charging the Fee?

Starting January 6, carriers will have to query a federal database of drivers who have refused or failed drug and alcohol tests. This query will be required for every new driver and once per year for each existing driver. The database will contain testing information going back five years. A fee of $1.25 will be charged for each query.

This database query will replace the current method of calling a driver’s previous employer for drug and alcohol testing records by 2023. Until then, both queries and calls will be required.

What Are the Pros?

This new regulation will allow the FMCSA, as well as trucking companies, licensing agencies, and law enforcement, to more easily identify truckers who are not allowed to operate commercial vehicles due to drug and alcohol violations. The FMCSA’s ultimate goal is to improve highway safety by removing these drivers from the road.

What Are the Cons?

According to the American Trucking Association, there were 3.5 million truck drivers working in the U.S. in 2018. Though the individual query fee is small, it could add up to a big annual expense, especially for major trucking companies. This could have the effect of reducing the number of drivers hired in order to lower expenses, and increasing the workload on those remaining. More deliveries and shorter deadlines mean longer hours on the road for already-overworked drivers.

Effect on Truck Accidents and Drowsy Driving

The pressure on truckers to deliver on time is cause for concern. A survey conducted by the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that the primary cause of truck crashes is fatigued and overworked drivers. Use of over-the-counter and prescription medications can easily compound this problem.

Federal regulations require truckers to limit driving time and take regular breaks, but surveys show that these limits are often broken in pursuit of higher profits. According to NHTSA, fatalities from large truck accidents rose to 4,761 in 2017, the highest level in 29 years. 72 percent of those deaths occurred in the smaller vehicle involved in the crash.

Call Parnall Law for Help with a Truck Accident Claim

If you or a loved one has been in an accident with a commercial vehicle, please contact Parnall Law now for a free consultation. We can provide the assistance you need in this difficult time to make the insurance company fulfill its responsibilities and provide you the compensation you are owed. We’re here to help.