Safety

Drug, alcohol clearinghouse for CDL drivers proposed

Thomas McMahon
Posted on February 20, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new proposed rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would establish a drug and alcohol clearinghouse for all national commercial driver's license (CDL) holders.

Federal officials said that the clearinghouse would help improve roadway safety by making it easier to determine whether a truck or bus driver is prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle for failing to comply with federal drug and alcohol regulations, including mandatory testing.

Current federal regulations require employers to conduct mandatory pre-employment screening of a CDL driver's qualifications based on his or her driving record. However, there has not been a single federal repository recording positive drug and alcohol tests by CDL holders that employers would be able to search to ensure that the driver is able to perform safety-sensitive duties.

The new proposed rule, announced last week, would create such a repository and would require employers to conduct pre-employment searches for all new CDL drivers and annual searches on current drivers.

FMCSA spokesperson Donna Aggazio told SBF that the proposed rule would apply to all employers of CDL holders, including school bus drivers.

"Employers of school bus drivers, whether it’s the school district or a for-hire contractor working for the school district, must have programs that satisfy the rule," Aggazio said. "This means the service providers that handle the drug and alcohol testing must report the positive test results for school bus drivers to the clearinghouse, and the employers of the school bus drivers must query the system to ensure that any school bus driver they employ is not identified as failing to fulfill all of the return to duty requirements after testing positive."

For the privacy of drivers involved, each CDL holder would need to provide his or her consent before an employer could access the clearinghouse.

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said in a statement that the agency is "leveraging technology to create a one-stop verification point to help companies hire drug- and alcohol-free drivers. This proposal moves us further down the road toward improving safety for truck and bus companies, commercial drivers and the motoring public everywhere."

For each of the past three years, federal and state safety inspectors have conducted approximately 3.5 million random roadside inspections of commercial vehicles and of their drivers.

In 2013, on 2,095 occasions (0.23% of the unannounced inspections), a CDL holder was immediately placed out of service and cited for violating federal regulations on alcohol consumption. On 1,240 occasions (0.13% of the unannounced inspections), a CDL holder was placed out of service and cited for violating federal regulations on controlled substances.

The new proposed rule was directed by Congress in the most recent transportation bill, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.

To read the proposal, go here.

Related Topics: drug use/testing, FMCSA, impaired driving

Thomas McMahon Executive Editor
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