Some of the most serious, life-threatening and life-taking accidents on California highways involve tractor-trailer crashes. Pitting a big rig against a four-wheel vehicle isn’t likely to end well for the latter. When claims are filed on behalf of the injured, trucking companies and their insurers will try to limit their liability. One way an experienced advocate can help is by an immediate, thorough investigation of whether the truck driver played a role in the cause of the accident.
Part of that review may include the trucking company’s compliance with impaired driver rules governing commercial drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in particular, requires motor carriers and their drivers to adhere to controlled substances and alcohol testing regulations. This is an employer-based program wherein they are responsible for identifying commercial truck drivers who are abusing alcohol or using controlled substances while on duty.
Urine tests for drugs and breath tests for alcohol are required under the regulations. It’s specified that testing be conducted before an employee is hired, after an accident happens, if an employer has a reasonable suspicion a driver is abusing these substances and randomly. If a violation is found, additional testing must be undertaken before a return to commercial driving is allowed.
California Highway Patrol has the authority to conduct inspections of a company’s CSAT program. A rating is assigned under the California Vehicle Code, which is based on the federal regulations. Controlled substances include marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, PCP and opiates. Alcohol use is prohibited within four hours before driving a regulated vehicle. After an accident happens, drivers must be tested by an employer if it involves a fatality and otherwise if the driver is cited.
Source: Department of California Highway Patrol, “What is CSAT?” Dec. 23, 2014