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New FMCSA registry offers insight on substance abuse in trucking

On Behalf of | May 13, 2021 | Personal injury

Truck drivers spend long stints on the road by themselves and sometimes go weeks without seeing their loved ones. These are among the reasons that some commercial truckers turn to drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse has become so problematic in trucking in recent years that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented a Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse to help identify truckers who abuse drugs or alcohol and keep them off the road.

According to Fleet Owner, the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse is a database containing information about professional truck drivers and whether they have received any substance abuse violations on the job. Owners of trucking companies must comply with certain mandates surrounding the clearinghouse. If they neglect to do so, they may face fines and other possible sanctions.

Compliance requirements

Fleet owners have a duty to run queries through the clearinghouse to obtain information about all truck drivers they employ and hire. Trucking company owners that fail to do so within a certain timeline may face thousands of dollars in fines for each violation.

Clearinghouse findings

The clearinghouse first took effect in early 2020. Between early 2020 and November of 2020, trucking companies performed about 2 million searches within the database. Those searches turned up about 50,000 truck drivers with substance abuse violations. Most, or 85%, of truck drivers who had violations listed in the clearinghouse had failed drug tests. About 12% of truckers with substance abuse violations received them after refusing to take drug tests.

The main goal of the clearinghouse is to keep truckers who abuse alcohol or drugs from getting behind the wheel and posing a threat to the public. Yet, about 10% of those who received violations in the clearinghouse’s early days have already returned to active duty.