The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently cleared a legal obstacle to its Pre-Screening Employment Program. This program allows trucking company owners and others in Illinois and around the country to check into the driving records of truckers that they had been considering for employment. This will alert them to safety violations and other issues of which an employer should be aware.
The program was mandated by Congress in 2005, but a civil suit filed in 2014 by affected citizens raised significant questions about the program’s intrusion into drivers’ privacy. The court put these concerns definitively to rest, stating that providing information such as this was well within the scope of the FMCSA’s mission to promote road safety and prevent truck accidents.
When an employer wants to inquire about the safety history of a prospective driver, they simply submit a request along with a consent form from the driver and an appropriate fee. The FMCSA will then provide them with data about the driver including five years’ worth of information on crashes that may have involved them, any serious safety violations for which they have a record and three years of inspection reports.
The owners and employers of truck companies are responsible for their employees’ actions while they are in their service, and they must do their best to prevent accidents and incidents by hiring appropriate personnel. If there is negligence or malfeasance in a trucking company’s hiring policies and that leads to an employee causing a serious accident, then the company can be held liable in a court of law. The injured individual may choose to consult with an attorney who may be able to help him or her file a lawsuit against the company and demand compensation for harms suffered.