The American Trucking Associations (ATA) welcomed an announcement by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) late last week saying that the agency has created a national clearinghouse for commercial drivers’ drug and alcohol test results.
“ATA and its members are committed to safety,” said Bill Sullivan, ATA executive vice president of advocacy. “This announcement provides the trucking industry with a powerful tool to keep drivers who have tested positive for drugs or alcohol out from behind the wheel of our trucks.”
The federal announcement marks the end of nearly two decades of advocacy by ATA, which has long sought a national repository for drug and alcohol test results in order to close a loophole where a driver with a history of drug or alcohol abuse could be hired by a carrier without that carrier being informed of his or her history.
“Having information about a driver’s history is important to carriers when we make hiring decisions,” said ATA Chairman Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express Inc., Dayton, Ohio. “This clearinghouse will give carriers like mine peace of mind to know we are putting safe — and sober — drivers behind the wheel and on the road.”
The clearinghouse rule, which goes into effect in January 2017 with a compliance date of January 2020, requires motor carriers, medical review officers, designated representatives, and substance abuse professionals to report positive drug and alcohol test results, drivers’ refusal to be tested, traffic citations for impaired driving, drivers who have undergone the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process and actual knowledge of drug or alcohol use to FMCSA.
“In addition to the benefits of keeping potentially risky drivers out of the trucking industry, the final clearinghouse rule will also improve the efficiency of the hiring process by ending the so-called ‘three-year lookback,'” said ATA Research Analyst Abigail Potter. “The clearinghouse, after its first three years of operation, will take the place of carriers querying drivers about their last three years of employment history. Relieving the industry of this burden will provide tremendous time and cost savings.”