Tag Archives: impaired driving

Truck Safety Coalition on FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Rule

Contact: Beth Weaver, beth_weaver@verizon.net




ARLINGTON, VA (December 2, 2016) – After years of unnecessary delays, we are pleased that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration today published a final rule to establish the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. This rule will greatly enhance safety on our roads as employers will be able to access information regarding the testing history of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers applying for jobs and identify drivers who have previously violated alcohol and drug tests.

CMV drivers who have violated drug and alcohol testing currently pose a major threat to everyone on the road, but under the longtime system of self-reporting many employers were unable to access this information to avoid hiring problem drivers. The establishment of this new drug and alcohol clearinghouse that requires employers to check current and prospective employees will be a significant step forward for safety.

Truck Safety Coalition volunteers have first-hand experience with the deadly outcomes that result from truck drivers operating under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  Too often, a history of repeated drug and alcohol violations is not unearthed until a catastrophic crash occurs and a comprehensive investigation ensues.  This will no longer be the case as employers in the industry can now preemptively promote safety by identifying and not hiring dangerous drivers.

Unsafe Trucks

Out-of-control. Regrettable actions. Broken lives. Irreversible tragedies.

The recent widespread discussion in social media about the actions of a young man after partying  has triggered my distress at the thought of the regrettable actions by drunk, drugged, distracted, and drowsy drivers every day.

Do we really grasp the way that these things impair us and change our ability to act sensibly, responsibly–the way we might if we were “in our right mind”?

What does it lead to (whether intended or not)? Out-of-control. Regrettable actions. Broken lives. Irreversible tragedies.

Surely there are better ways for us to deal with the stress, pain, fear, frustration, and boredom in our lives.  I mean, what are we doing to ourselves? Has it become socially acceptable to mess up our own lives as well as those around us?

What can I do about it? What can you do about it? Surely we can work together to find ways to end these senseless, preventable tragedies–on and off the road.


Ex-astronaut charged with murder in car wreck that killed 2

Impaired Driving

Irreversible & Regrettable

Appropriate testing for marijuana-impaired drivers

Methods for testing the level of a driver’s possible impairment from marijuana is more complex than a simple blood level of the substance. Some states in which marijuana is legal are apparently using tests which could produce flawed results. Other states are set to follow their example.

The foundation recommends replacing the laws with ones that rely on specially trained police officers to determine if a driver is impaired, backed up by a test for the presence of THC rather than a specific threshold. The officers are supposed to screen for dozens of indicators of drug use, from pupil dilation and tongue color to behavior. Study: No scientific basis for laws on marijuana and driving

Here is yet another example of a traffic safety problem which could be addressed more effectively through a White House Vision Zero Task Force. Then, once such a Task Force were to recommend an appropriate law and testing technique, all states could be required to follow suit–without having to reinvent the wheel 50 time over.

Why on earth don’t we establish National Traffic Safety Standards & require them to be adopted by States?

Vision Zero Goal


Driven distracted lately? You and who else? Where will we end up?

With a national focus on Distracted Driving this month, I thought that I would highlight the posts which I have written on that deadly subject: Distracted Driving posts on annaleahmary.com.


Drunk Busters Impairment Goggles give drivers ed. students understanding of impaired driving effects.

Drunk Busters Impairment Goggles give drivers ed. students understanding of impaired driving effects.

Curt’s experiences have taken him many places, but one important place was developing goggles to represent what it would be like if someone was impaired by alcohol or drugs. The problem exists when someone is impaired, their thoughts and judgement are also impaired. They can’t realize what they’re doing is wrong when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle if they are already impaired by alcohol or drugs. That’s where these goggles come into play. They send a strong message about the dangers of drinking and driving.

It’s time to listen to those who care

Drunk Busters of America

Sounds like a good way to impact driving behavior choices before they get made.

NHTSA hosting discussion of the behavioral changes necessary to achieve near-zero traffic safety deaths

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is announcing a meeting that will be held in Washington, DC on March 10-11, 2016 to explore ways to promote evidence-based behavior change in a traffic safety setting.

“The Driving Behavioral Change in Traffic Safety workshop will include presentations and discussions on a number of topics including analysis and feasibility of using different approaches to changing behavior; exploring promising untested strategies; identifying long-term pathways to eliminate fatalities; and considering how evidence-based behavior change strategies can be used in the broader policy discussion.

“Attendance at the meeting is limited to invited participants because of space limitations of the DOT Conference Center. However, the meeting will be available for live public viewing on the NHTSA Web site (www.nhtsa.gov).” Meetings: Driving Behavioral Change in Traffic Safety

Sounds promising. . . I hope to see meaningful results which can be widely-dispersed. And focused on while also addressing environmental and vehicular causes of traffic deaths.

We Rescue Jesus Saves 018

Why on earth don’t we establish National Traffic Safety Standards & require them to be adopted by States?

Our Crash Was Not An Accident

Are you aware that Death by Motor Vehicle is one of the leading causes of death?

Note: While taking classes at the University of Michigan in 1979 for my Master of Public Health degree in Health Behavior & Health Education, one of the things I learned, which has stuck with me, is that fear is not always the best motivator for changing behavior. In other words, knowing that something you do could end your life or that of someone else doesn’t necessarily change our actions. It doesn’t always sink in.

That needs to be kept in mind as we attempt to encourage better driving behavior.

NTSB: Trucker’s Use of Synthetic Marijuana Caused Fatal Crash of Texas Students on Sept. 26, 2014

From HDT Trucking Info.

NTSB: Trucker’s Use of Synthetic Marijuana Caused Fatal Crash

November 18, 2015,  By David Cullen

“As a result of its investigation of a truck crash that killed four college athletes last year, the National Transportation Safety Board issued recommendations on Nov. 17 aimed at helping motor carriers address ‘impairing substances’ that are not tested for under federal regulations.

NTSB said it has determined that the truck driver charged with killing four members of the North Central Texas College softball team by crashing his tractor-trailer into the bus they were riding in caused the accident ‘due to incapacitation stemming from his likely use of a synthetic cannabinoid,’ commonly known as synthetic marijuana. . .

NTSB pointed out that while federal law prohibits CDL drivers from operating a vehicle while impaired, federal regulations require testing for only a few impairing substances.

The board said this crash investigation highlights the challenges that disconnect presents to both employers and law enforcement. ‘Motor carriers need to know about this emerging class of drugs, and they need better tools to detect driver impairment,’ said NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart.”

See more at: http://www.truckinginfo.com/news/story/2015/11/ntsb-trucker-s-use-of-synthetic-marijuana-caused-fatal-crash.aspx


Marijuana Impairs Judgment, Reaction Times, & Awareness

What will be the impact of increased use of marijuana on road safety?

NHTSA recently commented on this question ( http://ht.ly/IDHau )  :

“. . . even as drinking and driving continues to fall, use of illegal drugs or medicines that can affect road safety is climbing. The number of weekend nighttime drivers with evidence of drugs in their system climbed from 16.3 percent in 2007 to 20 percent in 2014. The number of drivers with marijuana in their system grew by nearly 50 percent.

A second survey, the largest of its kind ever conducted, assessed whether marijuana use by drivers is associated with greater risk of crashes. The survey found that marijuana users are more likely to be involved in accidents, but that the increased risk may be due in part because marijuana users are more likely to be in groups at higher risk of crashes. In particular, marijuana users are more likely to be young men – a group already at high risk.

This was the most precisely controlled study of its kind yet conducted, but it measured the risk associated with marijuana at the levels found among drivers in a large community. Other studies using driving simulators and test tracks have found that marijuana at sufficient dosage levels will affect driver risk.

Drivers should never get behind the wheel impaired, and we know that marijuana impairs judgment, reaction times and awareness,’ said Jeff Michael, NHTSA’s associate administrator for research and program development. ‘These findings highlight the importance of research to better understand how marijuana use affects drivers so states and communities can craft the best safety policies.’

The study, conducted in Virginia Beach, Va., gathered data over a 20-month period from more than 3,000 drivers who were involved in crashes, as well as a comparison group of 6,000 drivers who did not crash. The study found that drivers who had been drinking above the 0.08 percent legal limit had about 4 times the risk of crashing as sober drivers and those with blood alcohol levels at 0.15 percent or higher had 12 times the risk.

NHTSA plans a series of additional studies to further understand the risk of drugged driving, including the Washington State Roadside Survey, which will assess risk in a state where marijuana has recently been legalized, and a simulator study with the National Institute on Drug Abuse to assess how drivers under the influence of drugs behave behind the wheel.”

More sources:



(Photo is of our car hit by a truck and pushed under another truck; marijuana was not cited as a cause, but truck driver fatigue might have been a factor which also impairs driving reaction times.)

The Trucking Alliance Speaks Out on Hours of Service Rules

Washington DC 151Washington DC 156

The Trucking Alliance, in October 2014, made a statement about truck drivers’ hours of service rules which included the following: 

“The stark reality is that until there’s a way to verify industry compliance it doesn’t matter what the federal government’s hours of service rules are for truck drivers, because truck drivers can simply ignore these federal rules. *

They can choose to drive as many hours as they want to drive, and they do every day, because truck drivers are only required to fill out a paper logbook, writing down their driving time, and paper logbooks are easily falsified.

Enforcement of these federal hours of service rules relies on state commercial vehicle safety agencies to conduct roadside reviews and audits. While these agencies perform well, they are largely underfunded and undermanned to assure the public that truck drivers are obeying the law.

So nobody really knows who is and who is not following these federal hours of service rules because paper logbooks easily allow truck drivers to exceed their maximum number of hours behind the wheel.

That’s why the Alliance prefers a deliberate process in which a 2012 congressional mandate is accelerated to require electronic logging devices in all commercial trucks.Congress actually passed this legislation in its last transportation reauthorization bill, called MAP-21, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is almost two years behind schedule in implementing this critically important law, a measure that will truly improve highway safety. Every effort should be made to urge the Department of Transportation to accelerate the timeframe for implementing the electronic logging device law, sooner than later.

These electronic logging devices will record driving data that won’t lie. Technology will assure compliance with current rules and also provide objective data to determine how many hours of driving time for truck drivers should be allowed.

Additionally, the Alliance believes that other safety measures can do as much to reduce the number of accidents involving commercial truck drivers and motorists as these hours of service rules. For example, we support another congressional mandate passed in 2012 – to create a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse, which will help identify people who have previously tested positive on a drug and alcohol exam to become a truck driver, as well as related legislation now pending before Congress that will recognize even more effective methods to identify lifestyle drug abusers and keep them out of trucks.

The Alliance also supports speed governors on commercial trucks, an increase in the minimum insurance level for trucking companies and incentives to adopt other commercial safety technologies to reduce accidents on our nation’s highways. These measures will help ensure fewer accidents and safer highways for all Americans.”

Lane Chandler Kidd, Managing Director

October 16, 2014


* We addressed these issues as they related to our crash in a previous post:  http://annaleahmary.com/2014/08/law-enforcement-with-justice-for-all-balancing-truth-love/

Also, here is an update on Electronic Logging Devices from September 2014:  http://annaleahmary.com/2014/09/update-on-electronic-logging-devices/


Let’s Work Together To End Senseless Tragedies Caused by Distracted/Impaired Driving

Before & After Photos

I recently made some comments on a facebook post (by a radio show host) about proposed Texas legislation to ban texting while driving. I was frustrated with some comments made by others that they didn’t want this curb on personal freedom and that laws were not effective anyway. The following is an edited version of my “final” comment on that post:

Here is a before and after picture of our two girls in our car.  Actually, the before photo was from less than a year before our truck crash–when we were stopped on the highway due to a traffic fatality ahead of us. The after photo shows the result of a truck driver who was apparently distracted or “impaired”–abruptly ending two lives.

The point is that this is not a matter of personal right/freedoms being violated. This is a matter of personal choices needing to bear consequences when they result in death or injury for others (or themselves). Distracted/impaired driving of any kind needs to be outlawed–for the benefit & protection of those who are its innocent victims.

Enforcement & justice must follow. Raising awareness is essential–including acknowledgement of the extent of the problem and our own culpability and vulnerability. Research is also needed in order to find innovative technologies or means to curb the behavior which is sometimes addictive. And please do not forget the impact that this problem has on the lives of those who are responsible for someone else’s death.

The inadequacies of any solution to the widespread problem of distracted/impaired driving should not stop us from trying to put an end to these senseless & preventable crashes, which are not “accidents” but the result of personal choices/behaviors. The answer is most certainly not to put our head in the sand or discourage attempts to address this life & death matter but to work together to end such tragedies–one at a time.

Find out the current laws on texting & cell phone use in your state: http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/state-laws.html

Watch & share this Texting While Driving Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_-6EoNhitg