WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new final rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will establish a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse for commercial drivers, including school bus drivers.
Starting in 2020, the clearinghouse database will serve as a central repository containing records of violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program by commercial driver’s license holders.
"An overwhelming majority of the nation’s freight travels by truck, and millions of passengers reach their destinations by bus, so creating a central, comprehensive, and searchable database of commercial motor vehicle drivers who violate federal drug and alcohol testing requirements has been a departmental priority," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. "This system will be a new technological tool that will make our roads safer."
Once the clearinghouse is established, motor carrier employers will be required to query the system for information on current or prospective employees who have unresolved violations of the federal drug and alcohol testing regulations that prohibit them from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).
The final rule also 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; those who refuse drug and alcohol testing; and those who undergo the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process.
FMCSA estimates that the drug and alcohol clearinghouse final rule will yield annual net benefits of $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," FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling said. "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."
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.
In accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, 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 record to an employer. After registering with the clearinghouse, a driver can review his or her information at no cost.
The national drug and alcohol clearinghouse final rule goes into effect on Jan. 4, 2020. The clearinghouse will only contain violations that occur on or after that date.
For more information on the clearinghouse, go here.