The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is to formally establish the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse by listing it in the Federal Register,
according to the organization.
The database, which is mandated by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, will hold the results of drug and alcohol tests taken by every trucker holding a commercial driver’s license, and the rule would also require officials to report positive test results and any traffic citations or any other incidents that occurred while a driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
"We are leveraging technology to create a one-stop verification point to help companies hire drug and alcohol-free drivers," FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said in a statement. "This proposal moves us further down the road toward improving safety for truck and bus companies, commercial drivers and the motoring public everywhere."
According to the filing, the rule will bring about a reduction in
crashes that will bring about $187 million in benefits each year. Total
annual costs, which include those of employers completing yearly and
pre-employment clearinghouse checks, equates to $186 million.
“The proposed rule would establish the terms of access to the database, including the conditions under which information would be submitted, accessed, maintained, updated, removed, and released to prospective employers, current employers, and other authorized entities,” the filing stated. “Finally, it would require laboratories that provide FMCSA-regulated motor carrier employers with DOT drug testing services to report annual summary information about their testing activities.”
Comments can be submitted up to 60 days after publication in the Federal Register
The new rulemaking is justified, the filing stated, because the current
screening program for commercial drivers doesn’t allow prospective
employers to “identify (license) holders who have received positive drug
or alcohol test results, have refused a drug or alcohol test, or have
otherwise violated the drug and alcohol testing requirements and, thus,
are not qualified to operate a CMV.
“However," it continued, "estimated benefits include only those associated with reductions in CMV crashes,” the filing stated. “FMCSA could not precisely quantify improved health, quality-of-life improvements, and increased life expectancy for CMV drivers. The agency believes these non-quantified benefits are significant, and, if they were included in the benefits estimates, would clearly demonstrate the positive net benefits of this rule.”
When word of the impending rule broke last week, the American Trucking Associations celebrated the move.
“ATA has been a strong advocate for the creation of this process to help protect motorists since 1999,” ATA President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Graves said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that it took so long for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to act on this common sense safety solution, but we are pleased the agency has finally taken the first step toward creation of this clearinghouse.”
Graves noted that the rule closes a loophole that had allowed drivers continue to operate commercial vehicles even after testing positive for drugs or alcohol. This would happen if a new employer didn’t receive accurate information about an employee’s past transgressions; employers simply didn’t have a way to check up on the information.
Phil Byrd, chairman of ATA, added, “No carrier wants to put an unsafe driver behind the wheel. This clearinghouse will be another tool we in the trucking industry can use to insure that only the safest, most qualified drivers move America's freight."