American Trucking Associations leaders welcomed the December 2 announcement by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that the agency has created a national clearinghouse for commercial drivers’ drug and alcohol test results.
“ATA and its members are committed to safety,” said Bill Sullivan, ATA executive vice-president of advocacy. “Today’s announcement provides the trucking industry with a powerful tool to keep drivers who have tested positive for drugs or alcohol out from behind the wheel of our trucks.”
The announcement marks the end of nearly two decades of advocacy by ATA, which has long sought a national repository for drug and alcohol test results in order to close a loophole where a driver with a history of drug or alcohol abuse could be hired by a carrier without that carrier being informed of their history.
The clearinghouse rule, which goes into effect in January 2017 with a compliance date of January 2020, requires motor carriers, medical review officers, designated representatives and substance abuse professionals to report positive drug and alcohol test results, drivers’ refusal to be tested, traffic citations for impaired driving, drivers who have undergone the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process and actual knowledge of drug or alcohol use to FMCSA.
“In addition to the benefits of keeping potentially risky drivers out of the trucking industry, the final clearinghouse rule will also improve the efficiency of the hiring process by ending the so-called ‘three-year lookback,’” said ATA Research Analyst Abigail Potter. “The clearinghouse, after its first three years of operation, will take the place of carriers querying drivers about their last three years of employment history. Relieving the industry of this burden will provide tremendous time and cost savings.”
The drug and alcohol clearinghouse final rule annual net benefits are an estimated $42 million, with crash reductions resulting from annual and pre-employment queries by FMCSA-regulated motor carriers.
“This is a major safety win for the general public and the entire commercial motor vehicle industry,” said FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling. “The clearinghouse will allow carriers across the country to identify current and prospective drivers who have tested positive for drugs or alcohol, and employ those who drive drug- and alcohol-free. Drivers who test positive for drugs or alcohol will no longer be able to conceal those test results from employers and continue to drive while posing a safety risk to the driving public.”
The final rule requires motor carriers, medical review officers, third-party administrators, and substance abuse professionals to report information about drivers who:
• Test positive for drugs or alcohol;
• Refuse drug and alcohol testing; and
• Undergo the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process.
Additionally, motor carriers will be required to annually search the clearinghouse for current employees, and during the pre-employment process for prospective employees, to determine whether a driver violated drug or alcohol testing requirements with a different employer that would prohibit them from operating a CMV.
Federal safety regulations require employers to conduct pre-employment drug testing and random drug and alcohol testing. Motor carriers are prohibited from allowing employees to perform safety-sensitive functions, which include operating a CMV, if the employee tests positive on a DOT drug or alcohol test.
In accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a), a driver must grant consent before an employer can request access to that driver’s clearinghouse record and before FMCSA can release the driver’s clearinghouse record to an employer. After registering with the clearinghouse a driver can review his or her information at no cost.
Congress directed FMCSA to establish a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse as mandated by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).
To view the drug and alcohol clearinghouse final rule, click on this link: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2016-27398.pdf
To learn more about the drug and alcohol clearinghouse, click on this link.