February 12, 2014 12:30 PM, EST

Feds Propose Database to Track Truck Drivers’ Positive Drug, Alcohol Tests

TT File Photo

Federal officials on Feb. 12 proposed the creation of a clearinghouse that would track when a commercial driver fails a drug or alcohol test and require carriers to check potential hires against the database.

The commercial driver license drug-and-alcohol clearinghouse would be designed to improve safety by making it easier for a carrier to determine if applicants are prohibited from driving because they used controlled substances, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said.

“Today’s proposal will help ensure dangerous drivers stay off the road while encouraging the employment of the many safe drivers who follow our drug and alcohol requirements,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.

Federal regulations require random drug and alcohol tests for drivers, as well as pre-employment tests and tests after major crashes. Law enforcement personnel also occasionally test drivers for controlled substances. Refusing to submit to a test is illegal.

The clearinghouse would allow carriers to see whether potential drivers should be off the road for failing a test and not completing the required return-to-duty process, which includes a substance-abuse program. Drivers would have to consent to a potential employer’s search of the database.

“We are leveraging technology to create a one-stop verification point to help companies hire drug-and-alcohol-free drivers,” FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said in the statement. “This proposal moves us further down the road toward improving safety for truck and bus companies, commercial drivers and the motoring public everywhere.”

American Trucking Associations welcomed the proposal, saying it will improve highway safety and benefit all motorists.

“ATA has been a strong advocate for the creation of this process to help protect motorists since 1999,” ATA President Bill Graves said in a Feb. 12 statement. “It is unfortunate that it took so long for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to act on this common sense safety solution, but we are pleased the agency has finally taken the first step toward creation of this clearinghouse.”