New FMCSA registry offers insight on substance abuse in trucking

| Apr 16, 2021 | Firm News |

Few Tennessee motorists feel at ease when driving near commercial trucks, and with good reason. When cars and trucks crash, it is often those riding in the smaller vehicles who suffer the most severe injuries. Semitrucks pose a threat to everyone on the road under any circumstance. Yet, when the people behind the wheels of those trucks abuse drugs or alcohol, the risks become even more substantial.

Per FleetOwner, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration launched a Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse in 2020 to reduce the number of truck drivers getting behind the wheel while under the influence. In simple terms, the clearinghouse is a database that logs information about infractions received by specific truck drivers.

Clearinghouse findings

The first 11 months of the clearinghouse’s operations have revealed statistics about how often truckers are using drugs or alcohol on the job. In its first 11 months, fleet owners conducted 2 million queries about truck drivers. Those queries turned up 50,000 substance abuse violations.

Most, or 85%, of those substance abuse violations, were the result of truck drivers having positive drug tests. Another 12% of them resulted from semitruck drivers refusing to submit to drug testing.

Compliance requirements

While truckers may face sanctions for substance abuse violations, trucking industry employers may face sanctions for failing to register their drivers or run queries of new hires within a certain timeframe. Fleet owners face fines as high as $2,500 for each offense.

The trucking industry stands to lose a substantial number of drivers due to clearinghouse violations. However, 10% of violators are already back on the job.

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