The National Transportation Safety Board has made 19 total recommendations across several Transportation Department agencies. Some of the suggested changes stem from the NTSB investigation of a deadly 2011 crash in which a semi-truck hit an Amtrak train. That wreck claimed the lives of 6 people and left many more injured.
Perhaps the most controversial of the recommendations made by the safety organization pertains to background checks for truck drivers. The driver of the semi in the truck-train collision had several citations and crashes on his record leading up to the fatal accident. The NTSB has recommended that there should be a mechanism by which the employment history of a driver could be gathered and recorded. This information would then be accessible to employers when making hiring decisions. In addition, the NTSB would like motor carriers to retrieve records for all applicants from the Commercial Driver’s License Information System and the National Driver Register.
The NTSB has called for 10-year driving records to be pulled for new hire truck and bus drivers. Currently, the records from only the previous 3 years are checked. When the NTSB made this suggestion, at least one industry professional expressed the opinion that an additional 7 years of records would be unlikely to change hiring decisions.
The recommendations also included a recommendation for the Federal Highway Administration to work with the Federal Railroad Administration in an attempt to design a model grade crossing action plan, as well as suggestions about the side-impact standards for passenger railcars. The NTSB does not have the authority to mandate any of these recommendations.
Source: Truckinginfo, “NTSB Issues Safety Recommendations in Wake of 2011 Truck-Train Crash,” by Evan Lockridge, 6 February 2013