It has been four years since Congress directed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to create a nationwide clearinghouse identifying commercial truck and bus drivers in violation of drug and alcohol requirements. On Dec. 5, 2016, the FMCSA announced the final rule mandated through the highway bill Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).
The Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse defines the efforts the FMCSA is taking to maintain safe driving conditions and preventing CDL holders with positive drug and alcohol test results from operating commercial motor vehicles.
The rule identifies the following individuals responsible for reporting violations:
- FMCSA-regulated employers
- Motor carriers
- Medical Review Officers (MROs)
- Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs)
- Consortia/third party administrators (C/TPAs)
- Other service agents.
The three main violations to report about drivers include:
- A positive test result for drugs or alcohol;
- A driver who refuses to test for drugs or alcohol;
- A driver who underwent the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process.
A Central Repository of Records
In an overview of the rule, the FMCSA states, “The Clearinghouse will provide FMCSA and employers the necessary tools to identify drivers who are prohibited from operating a CMV based on DOT drug and alcohol program violations and ensure that such drivers receive the required evaluation and treatment before operating a CMV on public roads.”
Therefore, the national database will hold each driver’s record for five years. If a driver completes the return-to-duty process, their record will not remain in the database. Every year, motor carriers will be required to search for violations in the clearinghouse for their current drivers and prospective employees.
Traditionally, if a driver moved to a different state, their record could not follow them. The clearinghouse database is set to catch those drug failures regardless of state lines.
Clearinghouse records are not freely open to employers. Motor carriers, medical review officers, substance abuse officers or other service agents must receive written consent from each driver to gain access to the driver’s clearinghouse record. Additionally, drivers must grant written consent for the FMCSA to release the driver’s clearinghouse record to the employer. The confidentiality of the records follows the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a), protecting the maintenance, collection and use of information about individuals with records housed by federal agencies. If a driver does not give consent, then employers cannot hire them.
Expected Benefits of Clearinghouse Rule
The Department of Transportation anticipates an annual net benefit of $42 million. The cost includes reduced motor vehicle accidents, better health conditions, higher life expectancy for CMV drivers, and an overall improved quality of life. By identifying CMV drivers who have committed drug and alcohol violations that contribute to their ineligibility to operate a motor vehicle, the rule aims to improve roadway safety.
Tracking Driver Behavior with GPS Fleet Tracking
In addition to following federal regulations, motor carriers and fleet businesses have other tools at their disposal to ensure their drivers are demonstrating safe driving habits while out on the road. GPS fleet tracking platforms that provide safety features offer users digital map views of their fleet in real-time, complete with vehicle metrics. Fleet managers can easily view driver performance – from speeding and harsh braking to stop sign violations — metrics indicating that a driver may be under the influence or in need of driver coaching and training.
To learn more about driver behavior and safety technology, visit: Fleet Safety Solutions