Commercial motor carriers will soon have electronic access to driver inspection and crash records as part of the hiring process through a new program of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
. The Driver Pre-Employment Screening Program, as it's called, should take effect in December 2009.

The FMCSA says the new program will allow fleets to better assess potential safety risks, while giving drivers a chance to verify the data in their driving history and correct any discrepancies.

Commercial driver safety records are currently available to federal and state law enforcement personnel, and accessible to drivers through the Freedom of Information Act. When the new program becomes effective, driver safety records will be available to motor carriers in any state or jurisdiction, but drivers must give written consent before records can be released.

The Driver Pre-Employment Screening Program will be populated by FMCSA's Motor Carrier Management Information System, which includes roadside inspection and compliance review results, enforcement data, state-reported crashes, and motor carrier census data.

"Safety is our number one priority at the Department of Transportation," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This new initiative will help trucking companies ensure the safest drivers are behind the wheel of commercial trucks and buses. Making this information more transparent will make our roads and highways safer for everyone."