The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency in charge of safety regulations in the United States for the trucking industry, oversees millions of commercial vehicles that travel on the roadways every day. One of its goals is to reduce the number of deaths caused by commercial drivers. Currently, there are nearly 5,000 deaths each year caused by commercial drivers, including 800 commercial driver fatalities.
The FMCSA has now taken the step of closing a loophole in its drug and alcohol clearinghouse, which is a database in which certain employers and employees can access a commercial driver’s data, including whether the driver has violated any drug and alcohol regulations.
The problem with the database, as it existed until recently, is that, if an employer searched for records on a potential new employee before that individual was hired, and a prior employer entered information about that employee’s drug and alcohol violations after the search was conducted, the employee might be hired despite his or her prior violations. In other words, unfit drivers fired for drug or alcohol violations might be able to get new jobs and work for months before their new employers found out that they had been previously terminated.
In March of 2023, the FMCSA updated this database so that it will provide instant notifications by email to anyone who has searched a driver’s record within the past 12 months when that driver’s record is changed. Therefore, employers who hire these drivers will be made aware more quickly when a past drug or alcohol violation is logged. This change enables employers to take bad drivers off the road immediately and, hopefully, keeps all motorists safer.