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FMCSA Clearinghouse - 1st Year In Review

What is the purpose of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Clearinghouse? It is all about safety on our public roads. FMCSA Clearinghouse regulations apply to truck drivers and bus drivers and help keep drivers who are substance abusers off the roads.

One year into operation of the Clearinghouse, we saw reported in 2020:

Judging from these findings (the marijuana positives excepted), it looks as if many drivers are trying to stay awake with cocaine, methamphetamines, and amphetamines. Over 18,000 positives were reported for these three drugs, which are stimulants. Some of the drivers in question have started a return-to-duty (RTD) process, but most have not. In 2020, only 7,031 drivers completed the RTD process with a substance abuse professional (SAP) and were determined eligible for their RTD testing.

These statistics, shared by the FMCSA Clearinghouse, tell us that over 34,000 drivers with violations elected not to continue driving in FMCSA-covered positions. It is to be hoped that these drivers using illicit drugs are not currently driving on our public roads. They remain in FMCSA prohibited status.

Besides what is listed above, other violations reported to the Clearinghouse included:

So, after one year, we see that the system is working. Many drivers are now in a prohibited status. Keeping these drug-abusing drivers off the roads can save lives. The large number of truck drivers not returning to work might be a concern to trucking companies that continue to struggle with filling truck‑driving positions. The preferred outcome would have been for many more drivers to go through the rehabilitation process and return to work.

What About Queries?

It seems as though the 182,124 employers registered in the Clearinghouse are taking their responsibility to run queries seriously. Queries are required for pre-employment, and an annual query is required for each driver employed. Over 4 million queries were conducted in 2020; about 1.5 million of these were pre-employment queries. Each query checks the FMCSA database to make sure the driver is not in a prohibited status due to a drug or alcohol violation with no completion of the return-to-duty process. A driver who has a prohibited status is not allowed to operate in an FMCSA-covered driving position.

The Drug Testing Industry

The FMCSA Clearinghouse saw significant participation from the drug-testing industry. The numbers of registered organizations totaled:

C/TPAs can assist employers with their Clearinghouse responsibilities, which include:

SAPs are required to report:

MROs are required to report: