Publication of rule calling for trucker drug testing database imminent

The next time you find yourself traveling down the highway in the proximity of a semi, take a moment to glance at just how big it is and just how fast it is moving. Indeed, chances are good that you'll have forgotten just how unnerving the prospect of being so close to a vehicle weighing 40 tons and traveling upwards of 70 miles-per-hour really is.

As unnerving as this is, consider how it can become even more so when you add the possibility that the person at the wheel of this mechanical behemoth is not paying attention to the road, violating traffic laws or even driving despite a record of failed drug tests.

Interestingly enough, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration introduced a rule back in 2014 that would create what is known as the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, which would essentially be a database listing licensed truckers who have either refused drug tests or failed drug tests.

Specifically, the proposed rule would require the following:

  • Carriers would be required to report failed drug tests and drug test refusals to the FMCSA
  • Owner-operators would be required to report directly to the FMCSA, or authorize their drug-testing consortium/third-party administrator to submit information on drivers (including themselves)
  • Both carriers and owner-operators alike would be required to check the database when making new hires and check the status of existing drivers once per year.

As for those drivers who would be listed in the database, they would be given the opportunity to challenge the test results through submission of both a written request for administrative review and a written explanation outlining why the findings are incorrect to the FMCSA. A decision on whether review would be granted would be made within 60 days.

It currently appears as if this rule, which the agency proposed to ensure that drivers have completed the necessary return-to-duty process and trucking outfits are complying with drug testing regulations, will become the new norm.

That's because just last week, the White House's Office of Management and Budget gave the rule a "consistent with change" ruling, such that it's clear to be published in a final version provided that recommended changes (currently unpublished) are made.

For its part, agency officials are expecting the rule to be published in the Federal Register in a matter of weeks.

It's certainly encouraging to see this rule finally set for publication, as it will undoubtedly have a major impact on road safety.

If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can fight to secure justice on your behalf.

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