When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration introduced its Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, it did so to keep substance-abusing truck drivers off the roads. The clearinghouse, which is a database that tracks truck driver substance abuse violations, took effect in early 2020. Its time in operation has revealed important information about how many truck drivers are abusing substances while on the job.
Per Fleet Owner, there is a mandate in place requiring commercial trucking companies to run limited queries through the clearinghouse for all CDL drivers they employ. Trucking companies that made new hires within the past year also have to run full queries through the clearinghouse to check each driver’s history.
Between January and the end of November in 2020, trucking companies across the nation used the clearinghouse to review the backgrounds of their employees. Those queries turned up about 50,000 trucker substance abuse violations. Most, or 85%, of those violations, involved truck drivers who had failed drug tests. About 12% of violators flat-out refused to take drug tests.
Trucking companies have a duty to the public to comply with clearinghouse rules. If they fail to run queries on new drivers, they may face fines and other civil and criminal consequences. The same holds true if they fail to register their own new hires in the clearinghouse within a specific timeframe.
Proponents for the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse assert that the system is effective at keeping substance-abusing truck drivers off the roads. Many cite the fact that it makes it easier for industry employers to identify substance-abusing truckers who might have otherwise flown under the radar.