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FMCSA reminds truckers drug, alcohol clearinghouse coming soon

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The clearinghouse will be a professional truck driver database that will serve as a centralized record of all failed drug or alcohol tests, whether from pre-employment screenings, post-crash tests or random. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

Remember two years ago, when it seemed like the entire trucking industry was counting down the days to the ELD deadline?

Well, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) wants drivers to be aware of another countdown happening right now, although with much less hoopla than the Great ELD Panic of ’17.

At the recent Mid-America Trucking Show, Joe DeLorenzo, FMCSA director of enforcement and compliance, gave a presentation to raise awareness about the soon-to-be launched federal CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

Mandated as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21, in 2012, the same piece of legislation that bore the ELD mandate, the drug and alcohol clearinghouse is scheduled to launch January 6, 2020.

The clearinghouse will be a professional truck driver database that will serve as a centralized record of all failed drug or alcohol tests, whether from pre-employment screenings, post-crash tests or random. All refusals to take a drug or alcohol test will also be recorded.

“I came here with a bit of a mission on the drug and alcohol clearinghouse rule,” DeLorenzo said to the MATS audience. It has come to the agency’s attention the clearinghouse has been flying under the radar, a bit, and not enough drivers seem to know about it or they haven’t gotten a full explanation of what the clearinghouse will contain and what it will be used for.

DeLorenzo said drivers have said to him, “Well, I don’t do drugs, so I don’t have to worry about this.”

“Actually, that’s not the case,” DeLorenzo said. “Everybody needs to know about this and get going on it.”

Starting in January, carriers will be required to query the database as part of the new-driver hiring process to ensure that the candidate does not have any failed tests or refusals in the previous three years. Carriers can only gain access to a driver’s record and make the mandatory query with the consent of the driver, and the only way a driver can give that consent is to be registered in the clearinghouse.

So, technically, drivers are not going to be required to register in the clearinghouse, DeLorenzo said. However, if you ever want to get hired anywhere again you’ll have to be registered in the clearinghouse.

“If you’re just kind of staying where you’re at, no intention of leaving, or if you are working for yourself, or if you are nearing retirement, you may decide not to register,” he said. “But in an industry with 100%-plus turnover, I know people are always looking for a new job, a different job, a better job. Any driver who’s going to apply for a new job after this rule goes into effect is going to have to have an account and is going to have to be able to go in.”

DeLorenzo explained why the clearinghouse has been set up this way. Today, when someone applies for a job, they get tested as part of the process. They fail the test and the carrier doesn’t hire them. Three months later, they stay clean just long enough, the apply somewhere else and that company hires them, not knowing about the prior failure.

Starting January 6, carriers will be required to upload notices into the clearinghouse of all failed drug tests by drivers and driving applicants, as well as all refusals to test, as they occur.

The database is designed to go back three years. At first, employers will have to conduct both electronic queries within the clearinghouse and manual inquiries with previous employers to cover the preceding three years to meet the mandated hiring requirement. As of January 6, 2023, they will only need to check the clearinghouse.

Drivers’ records will only contain positive tests and refusals. When a prospective employer makes a query, they will be told if the record is clean. If there are entries, they will be able to get more details.

If a driver has a failed test, the database will also record whether that driver has completed the return-to-duty process.

Drivers will also be able to review their own records, DeLorenzo said, which is another incentive to register. If a driver finds an entry they wish to dispute, they can file a DataQ request to have it corrected.

The clearinghouse website is already up and running. Drivers can go to Clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov to read about the clearinghouse and to register their email addresses for any updates. Actual registration is scheduled to begin in October.

DeLorenzo said he is hoping to raise more awareness about the clearinghouse now so they start registering in October instead of finding out the hard way come February when they try to apply for a job.

“What I’m trying to avoid, actually, is human nature, which is to wait until the very last minute.”

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Ron

    April 19, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Clearing house? So you want a job you have to be registered in the program? How much does it cost and who pays for it or is this just another program just to suck money out of drivers pockets in order to hire another lsyer of bureaucrats

    • Dunebuggy Dave

      April 20, 2019 at 2:52 pm

      Yep it’s just another example of our poorly-run government going after a hard-working truck drivers instead of the damn criminals
      You’d think they would be spending that much time and effort going ever crooked politicians or crooked police officers.I think whatever legislation that goes in place for drivers should go in place for the law enforcement officers as well because how can you police a group of people and not police yourself on it? you never hear about that legislation do you? And what they’re going to end up with is a bunch of little boys the don’t really want a truck they’re doing it for minimum they’re going to be doing it for minimum wage with all the cost already involved in that we barely make anything as it is electronic logs and ruined it so you end up with a bunch of little boys like I said they’re out here they don’t care about what they’re doing did he know bride and what they’re doing or they’re too worried about the damn legislation they might breathe wrong or part wrong or eat at the wrong time you know what I mean?

    • Chris Walters

      April 20, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      I cant wait until they anal probe us while we are driving down the road so when we get upset and blood pressure gets too high we can be shut down immediately for a undisclosed amount of time. Better yet how about we just get tired of our over regulated industry, being harrassed by the DOT and state and local police,and tell all you people to shove these trucks up your asses and let you drive to the coast to pick up your crap! Hmmmm.. I like that one. You drivers out there better start thinking about organizing a real stick together attitude before they start injecting those thermometer size probes up your asses and sending your stats back to your companies. Happy trails!

  2. DelRay

    April 19, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    And they wonder why no one wants to drive over the road. I’ve had a CDL/ chaufers licence since I was 16. Haven’t used it for years hold it only for emergency. Why do this for the money involved?

  3. loral Roger

    April 19, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    And they want to know where have the Drivers gone? When are the drivers going to stand up for there rights? I started driving to be employed and left alone so I could do my job without being bother for 8 hours. It makes me sick to hear a driver to say I don’t do drugs so whatever. These driver are the problem because it’s a right problem.

    • Hector Santana

      April 20, 2019 at 6:47 am

      I couldn’t agree more, and also : I we the “ Good one “ that are left on driving, I we going to get pay more. Meaning that finally trucking will be back again a middle class job, where we can make 150, plus. Otherwise it’s not worth it sacrificing soo much.

    • Neal

      April 20, 2019 at 8:32 am

      You don’t have a “right” to drive. You are CHOOSING to drive and therefore subject to ANY law they pass. Don’t like it? Get a different job. I’m all for this. I’m tired of spending my resources hiring deadbeat dope heads. This will help keep dangerous people from driving. Oh and when there is a shortage of drivers, the pay rises. The drivers that are doing it right bring home the cash…

      • John Lee

        April 20, 2019 at 11:08 am

        Yes, I do have a “right” to drive! I’ve taken care of my mvr over the decades! I’ve stayed at one employer for several years! I’ve taken care of the mountain of paperwork that gets thrown at us! I’ve jumped thru all of the hoops to stay legal. Don’t tell me that I don’t have a right to drive! Don’t tell me that it’s a privilege! I’ve earned the right to drive with 30+ years of driving! I’ve earned the right! You’re not going to put me down and act like I’m some expendable wanna-be rookie Driver that you can treat how you want to! Attitudes like yours need to be dealt with and thrown by the road side. I’ve tried my best to take care of my business over the years to have someone like you downgrade me!

      • Ted

        April 20, 2019 at 12:47 pm

        Thanks, Neal. I have a CDL and have no problem with this.
        The roads are dangerous enough.

  4. Jason Bashant

    April 19, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    Meanwhile, they will never address the REAL issue of legalized slavery that trucking entails…the 1% keep marching on and on and on…

  5. Whiskey

    April 19, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    I wonder if the day will ever come where law makers fall under the same standards and monitoring methods a simple blue collar worker finds himself in…..until we are judged with equal standards, this over reach in my book.

  6. Only me

    April 20, 2019 at 12:37 am

    Well i hope to every driver that meets all requirements it also gives them more value for higher pay? Too many liabilities requirements dangers we put up with and todays pay? Its just not worth it.

  7. JamesBond

    April 20, 2019 at 3:56 am

    When will this be implemented for politicians and industry management?
    Answer – Never
    If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander. That’s called leadership.
    Park the mucking trucks, until this place comes to its senses.
    Truck drivers shouldn’t be treated as 2nd class citizens, or guilty before being proven innocent.

  8. 007 James Bond

    April 20, 2019 at 4:17 am

    When are they going to start to mandate, and regulate better pay????? Why they keep missing that part???

  9. Jeff

    April 20, 2019 at 4:30 am

    Another government overreach, everyone needs to find ways not to work period. Let the gov… Keep up their families. The ones coming up with all this bull…., Are they enrolled, LoL, right. No I don’t do drugs so go hunting somewhere else. Just so sick of crap!!! Solution is so simple, downsize the government, and all of our problems over. Happily ever after.

  10. R Kelly

    April 20, 2019 at 5:40 am

    I wonder if the data base will also register color and consistency of the urinalysis and whether i peed enough. Oh, we have a trucker shortage…hey lets implement more policies to keep drivers from being employed. I agree bad drivers should not be on the road but reality is that they are and work. If all policies were actually enforced we probably wouldn’t have people moving goods anymore. Next thing i need to put my bowel movements into a registered database with time and date color and consistency because everyone knows a constipated driver is a dangerous driver (disclaimer: contains sarcasm)

  11. 007 James Bond

    April 20, 2019 at 5:44 am

    I can see automated trucks in the very near future!! Taking crystal meth out of trucking won’t makes America great again!!!!. The people who’s making these decisions never driven a Semi across the US. First you give up way to much more of your LIFE to begin with. The pay is very bad meaning you work 24 hours a day and only get paid for TWO!!!!!!!!!!!! IF YOU NEVER SMOKE A CIGARETTE BEFORE IN YOUR LIFE TIME BY THE END OF THE FIRST SIX WEEKS ON THE ROAD, BEFORE MOVING ON TO THE SEVENTH WEEK YOU WILL FIND YOURSELF WITH A PACK OF CAMEL OR Marlboro or both for the rest of your time driving trucks. My point is you have to SMOKE,SWALLOW,SNIFF,SUCK,OR INJECT something to do this job. Safest way for cargo moving forward TRAINS! Most major cities have a distance of 250 to 300 hundreds miles apart from each other states by states, that would allow drivers to work 8 to 10 hours shift get paid hourly rate, and go home at the of shift!!. WIN, WIN, WIN for everyone except Suadi Arabia!!. The Environment would be the biggest winner!!!.

  12. Marc Rettus

    April 20, 2019 at 7:17 am

    Self driving trucks will take care of the problem. They WILL be in your future.

    “Mandate higher pay.” BAHAHAHA, what country and economic system do you will under?

    Oh, dumbass, elected officials don’t drive 78,000 pound vehicles.

    I have had to fill a cup at every company I have ever worked for.

  13. Kenema

    April 20, 2019 at 7:56 am

    I don’t do illegal drugs but I’m not signing up, either. 35 years doing this nonsense and the gov can shove it up it’s pooper.

  14. Mg watson

    April 20, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Exciting to see folks stand up for themselves

  15. John

    April 20, 2019 at 8:16 am

    Don’t matter to me one way or the other but I thought all of this info was already collected and stored via DAC? Refuse a drug test under the current system and see what happens.

  16. John Geiger

    April 20, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Why should everyone have to register? Good old fashioned communism. Big brother wants to know everything about you. Where’s my 4th amendment rights and the others? If you want to use alcohol and drugs while driving a cmv damn right you should register, like myself and others that take this job seriously and don’t do that crap hell yes room to negotiate for more money. When we be getting people in the fmcsa that actually has a brain and some common sense to get rid of the bad ones instead of keeping on punishing the good ones everytime. I bet these same regulations are coming from representatives and people from states who legalized pot for recreational use.

  17. Vincent

    April 20, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Trucking sucks if it’s not physical,log books, permits,drug test.Whats nxt count the shit stains in your draws to say ur over hrs.cause u didn’t wipe ur butt….Haha that’s why no one wants to drive a truck…..

  18. Steve Travis

    April 20, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    32 years on the road and I can’t wait to turn in my keys. More big government regulation. And I will not be signing up for the program. F U.

  19. Mr o

    April 20, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    So another words clearinghouse is the liable party if drivers info is exposed to the public and also hacked information ! I think all the truckers and future truckers should refuse to give info and all the trucking companies will be at a loss. There are crying now that they are short handed so why put more restrictions on the American workers!! I guess that clearinghouse has a agenda …

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The Nation

NTSB provides update on 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of improvements

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Of the eight closed safety recommendations, four were closed with acceptable action taken, one was closed with acceptable alternate action taken, one was closed with a status of exceeds recommended action, and one safety recommendation was closed with unacceptable action taken. (Courtesy: NTSB)

WASHINGTON — The National Transportation Safety Board has published an updated list of the safety recommendations associated with the agency’s 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements following the recent closure of eight safety recommendations.

Of the eight closed safety recommendations, four were closed with acceptable action taken, one was closed with acceptable alternate action taken, one was closed with a status of exceeds recommended action, and one safety recommendation was closed with unacceptable action taken.

One recommendation was closed because it was superseded by a subsequently issued safety recommendation which remains open.

The NTSB announced the 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements February 4, in which the agency detailed 267 open safety recommendations that if implemented, the panel said could help prevent accidents and the injuries and fatalities caused by those accidents.

The agency went a step further and created what it calls the “Focused 46,” a list of 46 safety recommendations taken from the 267 addressed by the Most Wanted List,  that the agency said it believes can and should be implemented during the two-year Most Wanted List cycle.

“Closing safety recommendations with acceptable action taken, resulting in improved transportation safety, is the goal of issuing and advocating for a safety recommendation,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. “Our safety recommendations are founded in the science of our accident investigations and are designed to prevent similar future accidents. Transportation safety is improved when recipients of our safety recommendations take acceptable action. While I’m pleased to highlight this success, I also have to highlight how much more work remains to be done, and, the lost opportunity to improve transportation safety with the unacceptable action taken on safety recommendation H-12-029.”

H-12-029 called for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to establish an ongoing program to monitor, evaluate, report on, and continuously improve fatigue management programs implemented by motor carriers to identify, mitigate, and continuously reduce fatigue-related risks for drivers.

In its latest correspondence to NTSB dated January 18, 2019, FMCSA wrote that it “… plans no action to establish the program ‘at the motor carrier level’ [emphasis added] as recommended by NTSB. Fatigue management information continues to be accessed via the North American Fatigue Management Program website (https://www.nafmp.com). The NAFMP website remains active and guidance concerning fatigue management continues to be accessed and used by motor carriers.  FMCSA will continue to support both fatigue-related research and the NAFMP, which includes the maintenance, improvement, and promotion of the NAFMP to encourage the voluntary implementation of fatigue management practices by motor carriers.”

The NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements, now in its 30th year, identifies safety improvements that can be made across all modes of transportation to prevent accidents, minimize injuries and save lives.

Since the NTSB’s inception more than 52 years ago, the agency has issued more than 14,900 safety recommendations, and on average, more than 80 percent of them are favorably acted upon. At any given moment, the NTSB’s Safety Recommendations Division is managing the correspondence regarding an average of 1,200 open safety recommendations.

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The Nation

Tyson Foods earns James Prout/Wreaths Across America Spirit of Giving Award

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Representatives of Wreaths Across America and Tyson Foods pose with the James Prout/WAA Spirit of Giving Award presented to Tyson Foods. Left to right are WAA Founder Morrill Worcester; Tyson Operations Manager Mike Blessing, James Shaw, Ryder Chambers, Kenny Elbe and Tyson Chaplain Karen Diefendorf; and Rob Worcester, who helps coordinate transportation and logistics. In front is Kenny Elbe Jr. Elbe, Shaw and Chambers are all drivers for Tyson. (Courtesy: WREATHS ACROSS AMERICA)

SPRINGDALE, Ark. and COLUMBIA FALLS, Maine— Wreaths Across America has recognized Tyson Foods as the fifth recipient of the organization’s annual James Prout/WAA Spirit of Giving Award.

WAA Founder Morrill Worcester and his son Rob – a volunteer who helps coordinate transportation and logistics for the nonprofit – presented the Tyson Foods’ team with the award on July 12 at the 6th Annual Stem to Stone event held in Downeast, Maine, where the nonprofit is headquartered.

It is also where the balsam is grown to make the veterans’ wreaths sponsored by the public and placed by volunteers each December as part of the WAA’s mission to Remember, Honor and Teach.

The James Prout/WAA Spirit of Giving Award is named in memory of James Prout, owner of Blue Bird Ranch Trucking of Jonesboro, Maine.

Prout was the first person to volunteer to haul wreaths for WAA when the program was in its infancy. The award is given annually to a deserving professional truck driver, company or organization that has supported charitable causes in a way that will affect generations to come.

Operations Manager Michael Blessing accepted the award on behalf of Tyson Foods.

“I think I speak for the entire team when I say what an honor it is to be a part of the Wreaths Across America family,” he said. “The mission is impacting lives across the country and we are humbled to play a small part to ensure the wreaths are safely delivered and volunteers are well fed and cared for each season.”

Tyson Foods, headquartered in Springdale and the 11th largest private carrier in the United States, started hauling veterans’ wreaths for WAA seven years ago with only two trucks.

In 2012, after waiting in line with many others to be loaded, they came up with an idea and made WAA an offer to help create a truckers’ lounge to accommodate waiting drivers. This commitment to the mission has continued and only increased since then.

In 2018, in addition to hauling 18 loads of veterans’ wreaths, they fed all 500-plus volunteer truck drivers that came to Maine to load wreaths, as well as all the loading crews, WAA staff and volunteers, and visiting Gold Star families. They also provided the food for the escort to Arlington send-off dinner.

“By having the Wreaths Across America logo on my truck I am a better driver,” said James Shaw, a long-time Wreaths Across America volunteer and professional truck driver for Tyson Foods. “I have an obligation to drive the best I can to represent our veterans and the work of this honorable organization that does so much good for our country.”

The Worcesters said the trucking industry is vital in helping WAA achieve its goal of honoring fallen soldiers each year.

In addition to transporting wreaths, Tyson Foods supports the organization through fundraising efforts for Fayetteville National Cemetery in Arkansas and other local veterans’ and non-veterans’ nonprofit organizations. Their WAA Fundraising Group is called Transportation Warriors – you can sponsor a wreath through their page here.

“Without the trucking community and their generous donations of time and services, our mission simply would not be possible,” Rob Worcester said. “The work Tyson has done continues to inspire the WAA team to improve the truckers’ lounge and overall experience for volunteer drivers coming to Maine to load wreaths. They are an amazing partner and true friends of the organization, for which we are grateful.”

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Bills would up insurance minimum to $4.9M, require automatic emergency brakes

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The “Improving National Safety by Updating the Required Amount of Insurance Needed by Commercial Motor Vehicles per Event (INSURANCE) Act of 2019” would raise the minimum liability insurance for commercial motor vehicles from $750,000 to $4.9 million. (Associated Press: CHRISTOPHER MILLETTE/Erie Times-News)

WASHINGTON — Three Democratic representatives have introduced two pieces of legislation they say are critical to road safety.

Reps. Jesús “Chuy” García of Illinois, Hank Johnson of Georgia and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania joined the Truck Safety Coalition and truck crash victims at a press conference Wednesday to place in the hopper bills related to liability insurance minimums and braking equipment requirements on commercial motor vehicles.

García and Cartwright introduced the “Improving National Safety by Updating the Required Amount of Insurance Needed by Commercial Motor Vehicles per Event (INSURANCE) Act of 2019” which the two said would ensure minimum insurance requirements for motor carriers are periodically adjusted to the inflation rate of medical costs, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Minimum insurance requirement currently is $750,000 for most carriers. Others may face higher minimum based on the type of cargo carried.

The INSURANCE Act says according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the amount of $750,000, set in 1980 would have the same purchasing power as $4,923,153.29 in 2019, if the amount was raised to account for medical-cost inflation.

Therefore, the INSURANCE Act would set the minimum at $4,923,154 and require the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics to adjust the minimum every five years for inflation relating to medical care.

Most carriers purchase the $750,000 per event minimum, some carry $1 million.

A previous proposal to raise the minimum did not materialize.

On its November 28, 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) concerning financial responsibility (translated liability insurance minimums) for motor carriers, freight forwarders, and brokers.

FMCSA sought public comment on whether to exercise its discretion to increase the minimum levels of financial responsibility, and, if so, to what levels. After reviewing all public comments to the ANPRM, FMCSA determined that it has insufficient data or information to support moving forward with a rulemaking proposal, at this time and on June 5, 2017, withdrew the proposal.

Sources tell The Trucker the INSURANCE Act will never make it out of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit to which it was referred.

“Thousands of families are suffering in silence, saddled with crippling medical care costs resulting from catastrophic crashes,” García said. “The inadequacy of the current minimum insurance requirement, left unchanged for 40 years, only further prolongs the suffering and financial strain on families that have already lost so much. The INSURANCE Act ensures that families are adequately compensated to cope with their losses and prevents taxpayers from footing the bill for negligent trucking businesses and drivers.”

Cartwright said with trucks getting bigger and highways becoming more crowded, the country has experienced too many horrific truck accidents that change Americans’ lives forever.

“And since the minimum liability insurance for trucks hasn’t changed in nearly four decades, we’ve seen how victims, their families, hospitals, and our strained social safety net are forced to foot the bill for irresponsible driving,” he said. “This bill will raise that minimum, providing necessary relief to surviving victims and to the families whose lives are shattered by a truck accident.”

García and Johnson also introduced the Safe Roads Act, which would require automatic emergency braking (AEB) technology to become standard features commercial motor vehicles.

“Automatic braking systems are a simple, common-sense solution to deploy proven crash-avoidance technologies,” Garcia said. “Rep. Johnson and I agree that we should always operate on a safety-first basis. Any further delays to implement this important, life-saving technology will only result in more preventable, tragic deaths and catastrophic injuries. We shouldn’t be in the business of putting a price tag on life – passing the Safe Roads Act is simply the right thing to do.”

“Tragically, the simple installation of automatic braking systems on all commercial motor vehicles – a $500 safety feature – might have prevented these deaths and countless others across the country,” Johnson said. “America’s roads and highways should be safe for all drivers.  Taking full advantage of technologies that are available and proven to anticipate and prevent crashes will save lives.”

The bill was also referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Both the Safe Roads Act and the INSURANCE Act are endorsed by the Truck Safety Coalition and the INSURANCE Act has the additional endorsement from the American Association for Justice, the bills’ sponsors said.

 

 

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