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Federal database coming for truck drivers who fail drug tests

Mar 28, 2013 ARTICLE SOURCE:

Commercial truck drivers who fail drug tests might soon have their names listed in a federal database.

The White House has received a proposal to create a registry of drivers that test positive for drugs or alcohol while on the job. The rule would eliminate a loophole that allows drivers to “job hop” by not reporting failed drug tests on applications.

“We’re very excited that the rule has gone over to [the Office of Management and Budget],” said Abigail Potter, a research analyst for the American Trucking Associations’ regulatory and policy affairs department. “This is something we've been advocating for since the late '90s.”

The provision is part of the $105 billion Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) passed by Congress last year, the first long-term highway authorization legislation since 2005.

The specifics surrounding the clearinghouse are not apparent, as the proposal won’t be released until OMB finishes its review. The department has 90 days to look over it, though many rules have been sitting with the White House for far longer.

Under the rule, employers will be able to screen applicants in the national clearinghouse, which will show if the drivers have failed drug or alcohol tests. Though the proposal has raised some concerns about privacy, the American Trucking Associations expects the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to heed warnings from Congress about limiting access to the database

The trade group also expect that drivers who participate in substance abuse programs will be removed from the database.

“We’re pleased and surprised that this is coming through, and I assume the rule shouldn't be more controversial,” Potter said. “It is something that will help to improve safety.”

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