March 5, 2020 11:45 AM, EST

Movie Industry’s Drivers Seek Exemption From Full Clearinghouse Queries

Unloading movie equipment from truckMovie set employees David Pickar (front) and Bruce Henderson unload lighting equipment from a truck Aug. 4, 2005, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

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A group that provides commercial motor vehicle driver services for major motion picture studios, independent productions and commercial production houses in the U.S. has asked for an exemption that would allow it to conduct limited queries of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse for its drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced March 5.

Under the request, Motion Picture Compliance Solutions, a third-party administrator for the movie industry, would not be required to conduct a full query of the Clearinghouse before one of its member employers hires a driver for a project, the FMCSA announcement said.

“If the limited query indicates that information about the driver exists in the Clearinghouse, the driver would not be permitted to perform safety-sensitive functions unless and until a full query subsequently shows that the driver is not prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle,” the announcement said.

On Feb. 4, FMCSA granted the group a temporary waiver, allowing it to do the limited queries for 90 days, FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne said. If fully granted, the exemption could provide relief for up to five years, DeBruyne added.

FMCSA Notice of Motion Picture Compliance Solutions Application by Transport Topics on Scribd

The exemption would apply to members of MPCS, who are employers of drivers of commercial motor vehicles providing transportation of property or passengers to or from theatrical, commercial or television motion picture production sites, the group’s exemption request said.

“The nature of the theatrical, commercial or television motion picture production transportation industry is significantly different from that of the general trucking industry. The primary business for standard trucking companies is the transportation of products from one pre-determined location to another,” said the group’s exemption request.

“The entertainment industry transportation departments function as a support service, among many other production departments, toward the overall production of an entertainment product. The main purpose of drivers in the entertainment industry is to transport crew members and filming equipment to filming locations, driving an average of one to two hours each workday,” the exemption also said.

MPCS Application by Transport Topics on Scribd

The group said its members frequently hire drivers, with each being employed for short periods of time.

“MPCS members quickly find driver applicants by accessing pools of available drivers maintained by local unions,” the group’s exemption request said. “These driver pools are static by nature, exhibiting little driver turnover and few new drivers. Last year, only 6% of drivers hired by MPCS members were new to the motion picture industry. There are currently approximately 12,000 drivers in this pool.”

The drivers, considered “multiple-employer drivers,” often work for more than one production-related motor carrier in a week and in some instances, two or more in the same day, MPCS said.

Street closed for movie production in Georgia

A film crew closes a lane on Pryor Street in Atlanta to line equipment and trucks down the street Aug. 6, 2019. (Andrea Smith/Associated Press)

“According to the motion picture industry’s reported FMCSA Management Information System from 2017, and in contrast to the FMCSA’s reported national MIS data for the same year, production-related drivers who were subject to testing had a significantly lower rate of DOT violations than the national average, MPCS said. “The FMCSA’s MIS data for 2017 reports an overall positive drug-testing rate of 1.25% compared to the motion picture industry’s positive drug testing rate of 0.79%.”

FMCSA said it will accept public comments on the request for 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

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