Last month, a semi-truck struck and killed a man near his disabled car on I-84 in Idaho.

The truck driver was investigated by FMCSA: last year, a motor carrier fired that trucker for failing a random drug test.

After the failed drug test, the driver didn’t comply with the required substance abuse assessment, and was disqualified from driving.  And he shouldn’t have been driving a commercial motor vehicle on the day of that fatal crash.

After the crash, that truck driver was declared an “imminent hazard to public safety.”

Starting in 2017, a new federal database will help prevent crashes caused by dangerous drivers.

New Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse

Starting in January 2017, FMCSA will maintain a centralized database of all the drug and alcohol violations committed by commercial drivers.

Motor carriers will required to annually verify that their drivers are in compliance (“reporting”), and check on potential employees (“querying”) to see if the driver:

  • Tested positive for drugs or alcohol;
  • Refused drug and alcohol testing; or
  • Has undergone the drug and alcohol rehabilitation process in order to return to duty.
A brief overview of the clearinghouse rule, provided by FMCSA

A brief overview of the clearinghouse rule, provided by FMCSA

This rule benefits not only public safety, but also motor carriers that can make more informed, responsible decisions about hiring drivers.

It has the support of major trucking groups like the American Truckers Associations.

“Having information about a driver’s history is important to carriers when we make hiring decisions …

This clearinghouse will give carriers like mine peace of mind to know we are putting safe – and sober – drivers behind the wheel and on the road.”

ATA Chairman Kevin Burch

FMCSA estimates the annual net benefits at $42 million, in part from the expected drop in truck crashes caused by drunk or drugged drivers. The National Transportation Safety Board, which is charged with investigating major truck crashes and other significant transportation events, will also have clearinghouse access.

“This is a major safety win for the general public and the entire commercial motor vehicle industry,” said FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling.

It is a rare pleasure to report on a federal rule change that is applauded by both the trucking industry and safety officials—and a good reminder that we all share the goal of safe roads.