FMCSA Increases Random Drug Test Rates

With the always heightening safety concerns in the transportation sector, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has decided to double the minimum rate for random drug tests of truck drivers. This announcement came just prior to the launch of the heavily anticipated drug and alcohol clearinghouse.  The minimum rate for random drug testing will rise from 25% to 50% annually starting January 1, 2020. The rate requirement for alcohol testing will remain untouched at 10%. The drug and alcohol clearinghouse is a central database to house all positive test results and test refusals.

                The purpose of this database is to prevent drivers who have failed a test to get employment elsewhere without the new employer finding out about the original failed test. The clearinghouse was mandated by Congress as part of the MAP-21 highway funding law which was finalized in December 2016 by FMCSA. It is estimated that this law will eliminate 900 crashes per year.

                All motor carriers will be required to use this database as a part of the hiring process and all commercial drivers seeking employment must register. Fleets won’t be able to hire new drivers who aren’t registered with the clearinghouse after January 6th, which experts say could slow down the hiring process. However, existing company drivers do not need to register unless they are seeking employment elsewhere.  

                The FMCSA can also monitor which DOT numbers haven’t been doing their annual checks so the FMCSA can keep track of non-compliant members. It is recommended that carriers link the annual limited query check of existing drivers with the annual motor vehicle records check. The limited query alert tells the carrier if there is any information, then the carrier has 24 hours to request a full report which will deem the driver fit or unfit to operate a commercial vehicle.

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