Last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed instituting a drug and alcohol clearinghouse that would monitor all commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders throughout the country. The clearinghouse would allow the agency to easier identify CDL holders who have not complied with federal regulations regarding drug and alcohol use.
Current Drug & Alcohol Regulations
Under current regulations, trucking companies are required to give potential hires a drug and alcohol test and review their driving history prior to employment to ensure the applicant has no drug or alcohol-related incidents. However, this process is somewhat limited because there is no federal database that houses all of this information. For example, a trucking company in Texas may not have complete access to a potential new hire’s driving record in other states. This could allow a truck driver who had been convicted of a DUI in Oklahoma to slip through the cracks during the screening process.
The proposed federal clearinghouse would create the first national database where trucking companies could review the drug and alcohol records of truck drivers seeking employment.
The proposed rule would require drug and alcohol testing laboratories to record information about drivers who failed or refused a drug or alcohol test. It would also document drivers who passed their drug and alcohol test and are eligible to return to work. That information would be submitted to the clearinghouse each year.
Current regulations prohibit commercial vehicle drivers from operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Regulations also require carriers to perform random drugs tests on half of its employees and random alcohol tests on 10% of its employees each year.
Proposed Rule Gets Mixed Reviews
Proponents of the rule cite the rising number of fatal truck accidents and the need for improved safety on the road as reasons for tightening regulations concerning drug and alcohol use among truck drivers. The clearinghouse would make it easier for carriers and regulators to identify dangerous drivers and pull them off the road before they potentially cause an accident.
Opponents of the rule say that it does not go far enough because it only identifies drivers who have already had a drug or alcohol-related infraction. They also note that impaired driving is only part of the problem and that the clearinghouse does nothing to deter distracted and drowsy driving. The FMCSA reviewed public comment on the proposed rule late last year. The agency has yet to determine if the rule will be instituted.
Follow this link for more information about drug and alcohol abuse in the trucking industry.