How would you feel if you were involved in a serious traffic accident, only to find out that the bus or truck driver who hit you was considered unfit to drive? This is a reality that many individuals have had to face over the years, as lax regulations and inadequate oversight of commercial driver regulations have allowed medically unfit drivers to menace the roadways.
What is especially disturbing is that this has been a known issue since 1999, when a bus driver with multiple heart and kidney conditions slumped in his seat while driving, causing a terrible crash that took the lives of 22 people. Despite the driver’s many serious health problems and multiple prescription medications, he held a valid license and medical certificate.
After this tragic accident the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made a number of recommendations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If implemented promptly, these recommendations would have shored up the holes in FMCSA regulations that allow medically unfit commercial drivers to secure the licenses and medical certificates they need to drive.
However, nearly a decade after that horrific accident in New Orleans, eight of NTSB’s recommendations are still outstanding and a recent investigation by AP News found that medically unfit commercial drivers have been driving – and causing serious accidents – in all 50 states. Some drivers are even accepting money from the federal government for their supposedly serious disabilities, but are somehow still behind the wheel.
FMCSA has been directed to speed up implementation of the final 8 NTSB recommendations; unfortunately, this will come too late for the men, women, and children already injured or killed by commercial drivers who never should have been behind the wheel.