In 2013, one in 10 fatal motor vehicle crashes involved tractor-trailers. Truck accidents are a growing problem, and the federal government is offering a solution.
Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
In February 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed a new rule to establish a drug and alcohol clearinghouse for all commercial driver’s license holders in the U.S. This clearinghouse would act as a repository where transportation companies would be able to review possible drug or alcohol records of prospective commercial truckers, and discourage the employment of those who have records of drug or alcohol abuse.
Proponents of the rule point to several advantages to such a clearinghouse:
- The existence of such a resource would make it easier for trucking companies to identify potentially dangerous drivers.
- Requirements for companies as well as medical and substance abuse professionals would foster accurate reporting.
- Companies would be required to review the database during the pre-employment screening period, ensuring that the information is applied.
But opponents to the rule argue that:
- Abusers would need to have been caught beforehand for the clearinghouse to identify them.
- Impaired driving is only part of the problem; distracted and drowsy driving are major sources of accidents that the proposed rule doesn’t address.
- Employers would not be required to report direct observations of drug or alcohol abuse by employees.
Random Inspections Reveal Problem
For the past three years, federal and state safety inspectors have directed approximately 3.5 million random roadside inspections of commercial vehicles and drivers. In nearly 25 percent of the inspections performed in 2013, a CDL holder was placed out of service and cited for violating federal regulations regarding alcohol consumption, and nearly 15 percent were cited and taken off the road for violating controlled substance protocols.
The CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule publication is scheduled for October 2015.
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