Federal safety regulators last week announced a final rule clearing the way for the creation of a national database that will centralize drug and alcohol violations by commercially licensed drivers.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the “clearinghouse” database will serve as nationally accessible repository containing records of violations of the federal drug and alcohol testing program for commercial truck and bus drivers.
Once the database is running, motor carrier companies will be required to search the system for information about current or prospective employees who have unresolved violations of the federal drug and alcohol rules prohibiting them from operating a commercial motor vehicle.
The FMCSA’s new rule also requires employers and medical review officers to report drug and alcohol testing program violations. Such violations include testing positive for drug or alcohol use and refusing drug and alcohol screening procedures. Commercial drivers also must demonstrate they are undergoing the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process.
The agency said the it expects significant crash reductions once employers start querying the database for unresolved violations annually for current employees and as part of pre-employment screening.
“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,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This system will be a new technological tool that will make our roads safer.”
The FMCSA also estimates that the new rule will produce net benefits of $42 million in addition to keeping U.S. highways and roads safer.
“This is a major safety win for the general public and the entire commercial motor vehicle industry,” said FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling. “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.”