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Legal challenge cleared for driver screening program

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been collecting information on truckers in the state of New York and across the country for years. A program to let employers screen their prospective employees by accessing the FMCSA's database met with a legal challenge based on privacy laws, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit affirmed a lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit and the Pre-employment Screening Program is free to proceed.

The program allows employers to make inquiries about truck drivers that they might wish to hire. By sending a request accompanied with an information release form from the prospective driver and a small fee, the FMCSA will provide data from its Motor Carrier Management Information System on previous incidents in order to spot an unqualified truck driver. This system exists as a resource to the employers, and they are not required to use it. Nevertheless, some drivers perceived this as an intrusion into their constitutionally protected right to privacy. A class action lawsuit was filed by a group of truckers in 2014, but the appellate court's October ruling likely put an end to the controversy.

Like many rules and regulations issued by the FMSCA, the pre-screening regulation is designed to make roads safer and reduce the number of big rig accidents. Occupants of other vehicles who are involved in one often suffer catastrophic injuries, and if it can be demonstrated that the accident was caused by the negligence of the truck driver, an attorney for a victim could find it advisable to file a personal injury lawsuit against both the driver and the trucking company.

Source: Overdrive Online, "Court rules PSP reports don't violate driver privacy", Jill Dunn, Nov. 3, 2016

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