FMCSA Ruling Reminder to Truck Drivers

by Jana Ritter - Published: 5/22/2013

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared Texas-licensed truck driver Ruben Galindo to be an imminent hazard to public safety and has ordered him not to operate any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.  Galindo was served the federal orders May 6, 2013.

Truck crashed

"Safety is our highest priority," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  "We are committed to taking unsafe truck drivers who endanger the public off our nation's roads."

On April 13, 2013, Galindo, a commercial driver's license (CDL) holder proved that unsafe truck drivers can also be deadly. He was driving a tractor-trailer on U.S. 90 near San Antonio, Texas, on the wrong side of the road, causing a head-on collision with an SUV, resulting in four fatalities and one serious injury.  San Antonio Police Department officers responding to the crash subsequently arrested Galindo on four counts of intoxication manslaughter. 

While the police investigation remains open, it is a violation of federal regulations to drive a truck or bus under the influence of alcohol and the FMCSA's imminent hazard out-of-service order for Galindo is based on this violation of federal safety regulations.

"FMCSA inspectors and investigators are working shoulder-to-shoulder with our state and local law partners to vigorously enforce commercial vehicle safety regulations," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "It is unacceptable for a bus or trucking company, or any of its drivers, to disregard the law and put the safety of every traveler at risk."

For each of the past three years, federal and state safety inspectors have conducted approximately 3.5 million random roadside inspections of commercial vehicles and of their drivers.  In 2012, on 2,494 occasions, or in 0.26 percent of the unannounced inspections, a CDL holder was immediately placed out-of-service and cited for violating federal regulations governing alcohol consumption.  In 2011, FMCSA records show that there were 2,476 violations of this regulation; in 2010, the number was 2,655.

Federal safety regulations also require that truck and bus companies that employ CDL drivers conduct random drug and alcohol testing programs.  FMCSA requires these carriers to randomly test 10 percent of their CDL drivers for alcohol and 50 percent of their CDL drivers for drugs each year.

Truck and bus companies are further required to perform drug and alcohol testing on new hires, drivers involved in significant crashes and whenever a supervisor suspects a driver of using drugs or alcohol while at work.

This case is a clear example of just how important it is for industry employers to put the drug and alcohol testing requirements to work.