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FMCSA to propose new clearinghouse of positive drug & alcohol tests for truckers

Written by Steve Gursten Posted January 29th, 2014

National clearinghouse would store and archive all drug and alcohol violations – including refusals to submit to testing – of all truckers in U.S.

FMSCA drug clearinghouse

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is nearly ready to release a proposal that would establish a clearinghouse of positive drug and alcohol tests for truck drivers, according to Administrator Anne Ferro.

This rule is mandated in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21 Act), something that I have discussed frequently on this commercial motor vehicle safety blog.

The clearinghouse rule would establish a national database that stores the information of all positive drug or alcohol tests of truck drivers and bus drivers, as well as their refusals to take tests.

This proposal is long overdue.

From my own experience as a lawyer who has litigated many horrible truck accident cases involving drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is an idea that needs implementation now.

Many times, when an intoxicated truck or bus driver causes a serious wreck under the influence, it is not their first rodeo with drugs or alcohol. And what’s worse, we’re talking about professional drivers who do not care about endangering the lives of our families.

Having a centralized database would ostracize these bad truck drivers – and probably make them unemployable in states with punitive damages. It would prevent them from being hired to drive any big-rig truck by any decent trucking company that cares about safety. And all motor carriers would then be required to query the database before hiring drivers, so the effect would be widespread and the impact immediate. We would see safer roads and a corresponding immediate decrease in preventable truck accidents – and a decrease in innocent lives lost.

Administrator Ferro expressed the value of the clearinghouse at a recent session regarding the FMCSA’s research at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting.

“[The clearinghouse] will be a very helpful system that will accompany the [requirement], but first we’ve got to get through the proposal phase,” she said, noting that the rule is complete and under review of the FMSCA.

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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