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New FMCSA registry shows substance abuse high among truckers

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2021 | Truck Accidents |

When you are traveling in a passenger vehicle in Georgia and you collide with a commercial truck, your chances of suffering a serious injury or fatality are far higher than those faced by the truck driver. The chances of you colliding with that truck may increase if the truck driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, a new program seeks to reduce the number of truckers abusing drugs or alcohol on the job.

According to Fleet Owner, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration created a Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse in 2020. The clearinghouse is a database that lists all drug- or alcohol-related infractions lodged against specific truck drivers. Trucking companies have an obligation to report substance abuse violations in the database. They face fines and other potential sanctions for failing to comply.

Clearinghouse trends and findings

The clearinghouse first took effect in 2020, and its first months in operation have revealed some significant substance abuse trends in the trucking industry. During the first 11 months of its use, trucking employers made about 2 million searches to check for violations.

Those 2 million searches turned up about 50,000 substance abuse violations. About 85% of those violations involved truck drivers failing drug tests. Another 12% of the violators were truck drivers who refused to submit to drug tests when asked.

Clearinghouse compliance issues

While the clearinghouse seeks to make the roads safer by identifying substance-abusing truckers, it only works if employers actually enter their workers’ violations in the database. Through October of 2020, only about 150,000 fleet owners had entered information into the clearinghouse. This number is far short of the 525,000 motor carriers currently in operation.

About 10% of truck drivers who violated substance abuse rules and regulations have already returned to their trucking jobs.