New requirements are designed to lessen drugged truck driving

With the start of the new year, the minimum required random drug testing rate for commercial truck drivers is doubling. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) now requires a 50% rate of tests for controlled substances each year -- double the previous rate of 25%. The minimum required rate for random alcohol testing is still just 10%.

The FMCSA's drug and alcohol clearinghouse, which was approved several years ago, finally began early this month. This is a database of all random test drug and alcohol test results that were positive as well as all instances of truckers refusing to be tested. This clearinghouse is intended to prevent drivers who've failed a test by one employer to simply move to another carrier.

Commercial truck drivers who are not employed are required to register in the clearinghouse. However, it's recommended that all drivers register.

Trucking companies are required to check all drivers through the database before hiring them. They're also required to look up each of their drivers in the database at least once a year. Eventually, state licensing agencies will be required to make queries in the database before issuing commercial driver licenses (CDLs). Unfortunately, only violations that occurred after the clearinghouse opened on Jan. 6 will appear.

The clearinghouse is being met with mixed emotions by those in the trucking industry. As one executive says, "The drug and alcohol clearinghouse will significantly improve highway safety. However, carriers will see a drastic change in compliance-related workflow, ultimately complicating the hiring process if unprepared for the increased administrative burden."

All companies that hire truck drivers are required to comply with a multitude of regulations to help ensure that the safety of their drivers and their vehicles. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a crash caused by a truck driver, their employer and possibly other entities may bear legal responsibility. An experienced attorney can help you make sure that the appropriate parties are held accountable as you seek justice and compensation.

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