New clearinghouse to evaluate truckers’ drug and alcohol use

The busy lanes of Interstate 8 through Yuma, Arizona see a large portion of semi-truck traffic every day. Manufactured goods and food alike are transported to and from neighboring California to or from various parts of the country. With this high rate of traffic, truck accidents happen more often than most people would like.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records from 2012 show that more than 10 percent of all traffic fatalities in Arizona that year happened from large truck collisions.

Trucker safety under watch

Concerns about truck driver fatigue and distracted driving are commonly heard when the issue of truck safety is raised. So too are concerns about drug and alcohol use among truckers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association has recently developed a new system for monitoring this activity in an effort to improve safety for all.

Known as the Commercial Driver's License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, the process will set up a large database to collect and manage driving records for all drivers with commercial licenses. Individual owner-operators, carriers as well as large trucking companies must provide pertinent data about any driver.

The Commercial Carrier Journal reported that the following information will be included in and provided by the clearinghouse:

  • Any refusal to participate in drug or alcohol testing
  • The failure of any drug or alcohol test
  • Convictions for DUI, DWI or related offenses

Companies must perform database reviews prior to hiring any new truckers. In addition, annual reviews of all driver records must be performed by employers. Written consent shall be provided by drivers before their records can be searched. Drivers who do not provide such consent will be limited in their working abilities.

Support for the effort

Many groups have publicly expressed support for the FMCSA's efforts with the clearinghouse. These include the Truckload Carrier Association, the Truck Safety Coalition and the American Trucking Association.

The support of these has been accompanied by requests to ensure that drivers are treated fairly in the process. To this end, there will be an integrated appeal process to handle errors as well as a return-to-duty process for drivers who have successfully completed necessary steps after problems.

What drivers can do

The new database is expected to be in full force by 2015 or early 2016. Even once the clearinghouse is implemented, motorists and pedestrians alike should still know that they have the right to compensation if involved in a large truck accident. Working with an attorney is one way to obtain this.