ELD, Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Proposals Imminent, Ferro Says

Jaclyn O'Laughlin

WASHINGTON – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is close to releasing proposals to require electronic logging devices in all trucks and to establish a clearinghouse of positive drug and alcohol tests for truck drivers, Administrator Anne Ferro said.

Congress called for both rules in transportation law MAP-21, though the agency had been working on proposals previously, Ferro said at a Jan. 14 session about FMCSA's research at the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting.

The ELD rule “should be out very soon,” Ferro said. “Is it in the next 30 days? This is what my fingers are crossed for.”

Ferro and others have been working on the ELD proposal for years. “I think we're all seeing the light at the end of that tunnel,” she said.

The clearinghouse rule would establish a national database of all positive drug or alcohol tests of truck and bus drivers, as well as drivers' refusals to take tests. Carriers would then be required to query the database before hiring drivers.

“That will be a very helpful system that will accompany the rule, but first we've got to get through the proposal phase,” Ferro said.

In addition to the rules, MAP-21 called for FMCSA to complete a number of research projects, including a field study of the agency's changes to the 34-hour restart provision of the hours-of-service rule and an evaluation of the current insurance requirement for trucking companies.

Both of those studies are complete and under review at FMCSA and should be released soon, Ferro said.

Ferro also announced that new federal research has found that 70% of drivers are obese and half smoke, both well above the average for all Americans. The results are based on a survey by the National Institute of Occupation Safety and Health, a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.