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FMCSA database of drivers who fail drug, alcohol tests: Early results ‘encouraging,’ agency says

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Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
Photo: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Washington — Six weeks after the full implementation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, the agency said it had documented nearly 8,000 positive tests for substance misuse among commercial motor vehicle drivers.

According to a Feb. 21 press release, more than 650,000 registrants have joined the national online database, intended to enhance road safety by providing – in real time – the names of CMV drivers who have failed drug and alcohol tests.

Federal regulations mandate motor carriers conduct preemployment drug testing in addition to random testing. Employees who test positive are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, which includes operating a CMV.

“We’ve seen encouraging results from the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, but there’s still work to do to ensure we identify more drivers who should not be behind the wheel,” FMCSA acting administrator Jim Mullen said in the release. “The clearinghouse is a positive step, and the agency continues to work closely with industry, law enforcement and our state partners to ensure its implementation is effective.”

Under provisions of the clearinghouse, employers and medical review officers are required to report information about drivers who test positive for drugs or alcohol, or who refuse to comply with testing. Substance misuse professionals must report information about drivers who participate in the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process.

An article published Feb. 21 in the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s Land Line magazine states the organization’s wishes for FMCSA to amplify the figures by providing a more comprehensive data breakdown.

“FMCSA should provide more context if they’re going to publicize results from the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse,” OOIDA said in a statement featured in the article. “While they’ve reported 8,000 positive tests for prohibited substances, there’s no indication how many of those are from active drivers, refusals or preemployment screenings. We also need to consider that none of these results – or perhaps any of these results – suggest drivers were operating a truck while impaired.

 

“Hopefully, FMCSA will be more mindful of our concerns, or at least provide additional context, should the agency release future results from the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.”

FMCSA published the final rule establishing the clearinghouse on Dec. 5, 2016. The rule took effect Jan. 4, 2017, with full implementation on Jan. 6 of this year.

“Drug and alcohol violation records maintained in the clearinghouse will ‘follow’ the driver,” the rule states, “regardless of how many times he or she changes employers, seeks employment or applies for a [commercial driver’s license] in a different state. The clearinghouse will be administered and maintained in strict compliance with applicable federal security standards.”

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