Federal safety regulations require employers to randomly test drivers for drugs and alcohol and to test all new hires, drivers involved in significant crashes, and drivers suspected of using drugs or alcohol while at work. But under the current regulations, there is no way to track these positive drug and alcohol tests on a national basis. A new rule proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will create a repository for positive drug and alcohol tests by commercial driver license (CDL) holders and will require employers to conduct pre-employment searches and annual searches on CDL drivers. FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro believes this will create “a one-stop verification point to help companies hire drug- and alcohol-free drivers,” which will improve “safety for truck and bus companies, commercial drivers and the motoring public everywhere.”
Under the proposed rule, FMCSA-regulated truck and bus companies, Medical Review Officers, Substance Abuse Professionals, and private, third-party U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) drug and alcohol testing laboratories would be required to record information about a driver who:
Private, third-party U.S. DOT drug and alcohol testing laboratories also would be required to report summary information annually. This information would be used to help identify companies that do not have a testing program. Although an employer must obtain consent from the CDL holder to access the clearinghouse records, any CDL holder who refuses consent is banned from operating a commercial motor vehicle.
Even though it is currently a violation of federal regulations to drive a truck or bus while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, unannounced roadside inspections in 2013 revealed that 2,095 CDL drivers were consuming alcohol while driving and 1,240 drivers were using controlled substances. The American Trucking Association (ATA) says it is in favor of the FMCSA’s proposed rule. ATA President and CEO Bill Graves stated:
ATA has been a strong advocate for the creation of this process to help protect motorists since 1999. It is unfortunate that it took so long for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to act on this common safety solution, but we are pleased the agency has finally taken the first step toward creation of this clearinghouse.
If you have any questions regarding this proposed rule or relating to incidents involving violations of federal trucking regulations, contact Cole Portis, who heads up our firm’s Personal Injury/Products Liability Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Cole.Portis@beasleyallen.com.
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