Report: Unsafe Truckers Allowed to Drive

Many states are allowing unsafe truckers to continue to drive, according to a Transportation Department report.

The audit found that six of nine states visited by the department failed to suspend the licenses of drivers who were convicted of major infractions in another state, such as drunken-driving or leaving the scene of an accident.

A 1986 law requires that persons holding a commercial driver’s license must allow their driving record to be exchanged among states so that the driver is held accountable for an infraction in any state.

The Transportation Department visited 9 states and the District of Columbia, and requested data from 41 states. They found that seven of nine states visited and the District of Columbia, as well as 15 states responding to the request, allowed commercial drivers to avoid disqualification through special permits or probationary licenses.

Breakdown in Communication A truck driver involved in the March 1999 train crash in Bourbonnais, Ill., that killed 11 people was operating under a probationary license.

The report also shows how the communications system between states is not being used properly.

In a sample, 17 percent of convictions were not transmitted to other states within 90 days. Also, some states recorded violations from other states, but did not use them to trigger a disqualification.

A driver in Maryland was convicted in another state of driving a commercial vehicle under the influence of drugs, which should have carried a minimum 1-year loss of license for a first offense. Though Maryland’s records did show the offense, the driver retained his license.

There are seven violations that can cause a driver to have his license immediately suspended even on a first offense, including drunken-driving, violating railroad crossing rules and using a commercial vehicle to distribute drugs.

Several other common moving violations, such as speeding or reckless driving, can mean a 60-day suspension for a second offense.

The report was requested by the House Transportation Committee.

The six states visited that did not suspend the licenses of commercial drivers who were convicted of an infraction in another state were Maryland, Ohio, Texas, Florida, New York and Tennessee. 3/8

The 22 jurisdictions allow drivers to avoid suspension by offering special licenses or probationary permits are: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.