Road safety advocates in Kentucky and around the country may have welcomed news that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear arguments in a case filed against the Department of Transportation over the information it shares with employers about truck drivers. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association backed the six truck drivers who filed the lawsuit. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit ruled in favor of the DOT in December, and the nation's highest court announced on June 19 that it would not be revisiting the decision.
The truck drivers behind the litigation claim that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is part of the Department of Transportation, violated the 1974 Privacy Act by revealing information about minor violations such as parking infractions and hours of service irregularities. According to the plaintiffs, the DOT should only disclose information about accidents and serious safety-related violations to employers.
The drivers say that the DOT's policy damaged their reputations and made it difficult for them to secure regular employment. They also claim that the agency acted intentionally and willfully. The Supreme Court announcement marks the second time that the nation's highest court has refused to hear a case involving the OOIDA in recent weeks. On June 12, the court announced that it would not hear the trade group's challenge to FMCSA electronic logging device regulations.
Personal injury attorneys who have represented clients injured in truck accidents will likely support any policies designed to hold truck drivers accountable when they behave recklessly. The Supreme Court decision could also encourage trucking companies to be more selective when employing drivers. Fully laden semi-tractor trailers can cause catastrophic accidents and injuries when they are driven recklessly, and commercial carriers may face civil sanctions when crashes are caused by individuals who they knew had acted negligently in the past.