American roadways connect every major city in our nation. The over 164,000 miles of highways are a part of our nations larger interstate system that spans from coast-to-coast, and from Alaska to Florida. The ultimate goal of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to save lives on these roadways by reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving commercial motor vehicles (CMV). They plan to accomplish this mission through education, enforcement, financial assistance, partnerships, and full accountability.
The FMCSA’s Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol testing Clearinghouse is one of the latest methods of reaching this goal of reduced injuries and fatalities involving commercial motor vehicles like trucks and busses. This Clearinghouse, coming in January 2020, will improve highway safety in several ways. Let’s take a closer look at the Clearinghouse and the improvement in crash statistics that will hopefully be seen as a result.
Source: Motor Carrier Safety Progress Report (as of March 31, 2019)
As of January 6, 2020, authorized users will be required to complete the actions described in the Clearinghouse final rule. Those authorized users include: employers, consortia/third party administrators (C/TPAs) and/ or medical review officers (MROs). These users will be required to report drug and alcohol testing program violations to the Clearinghouse.
The Clearinghouse Final Rule includes: a database containing CDL drivers’ drug and alcohol program violations, and information about whether a driver has successfully completed the mandatory return-to-duty drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation process.
At this time, employers will be required to conduct both electronic queries and traditional manual inquiries with previous employers to meet the three-year timeframe required by FMCSA’s drug and alcohol use testing program, which is intended to check CDL driver violation histories.
Due to this new rule, the Clearinghouse hopes to, in partnership with drivers and employers, improve the statistics mentioned above. This new system will make it easier for employers to meet their pre-employment investigation and reporting obligations. Employers have the opportunity to receive electronic notification once their drivers have registered with the Clearinghouse. They also have the opportunity to check annual verification in order to ensure that a driver did not violate the drug and alcohol program with another employer.
Due to this new rule, drivers with drug or alcohol violations will have a difficult time concealing their drug and alcohol program violations from current or prospective employers. Drivers will be required to attend a mandatory return-to-duty drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation process before getting behind the wheel.
In addition to assisting employers with identifying drivers who have violated the rule, the Clearinghouse provides roadside inspectors and other enforcement personnel with the means to ensure that drivers receive required evaluation and treatment before performing safety-sensitive functions, such as driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).
According to FMCSA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis, the database is expected to eliminate nearly 900 crashes annually, saving about $196 million. For more information on the Clearinghouse Final Rule, check our website and click here for more information.