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Safety groups, attorneys call for expansion of drug and alcohol clearinghouse for commercial truckers

Written by Steve Gursten Posted June 14th, 2014

Rare coalition sees the CVSA, ATA and other truck industry lobbying groups united in push for improved commercial driver drug and alcohol clearinghouse

FMSCA drug clearinghouse

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and the American Trucking Association (ATA) are like oil and water.

So it was remarkable on May 5, 2014, when several trucking organizations, including the CVSA and the ATA, banded together to actually encourage expansion of the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (CDLDAC).

The Clearinghouse is the relatively new database of truck and bus drivers’ drug and alcohol test results.

In my role as a truck accident lawyer, I’ve seen horrible accidents caused by bad truckers who are under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both. I know how devastating these crashes are. But the fact that the CVSA and the ATA are both in agreement on this issue really points out just how important it is that we keep dangerous truck and bus drivers – who think they can use illicit drugs or alcohol and then operate a commercial vehicle – off of the road.

The rare alliance has called for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to add employer accounts of employees’ misuse of drugs or alcohol and employees’ self-admission of misusing drugs or alcohol to the clearinghouse. As the clearinghouse rule currently stands, the only drug and/or alcohol violations which are reported are those detected by medical review officers, substance abuse professionals, and private, third-party USDOT testing laboratories.

The coalition feels that employers should have the ability to supply additional records of abuse to the database. As they envision the database functioning, carriers would also be required to report “actual knowledge” of drug use by drivers, including the employer’s own eye witness accounts of drivers using drugs.

For those of you unfamiliar with the two groups:

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is is an international non-profit organization comprised of local, state, and federal motor carrier safety representatives. Its mission is to promote commercial motor vehicle safety and security. And it’s one of the trucking industry’s harshest critics. The CVSA works closely with the FMCSA to promote safety, and you may recall that they annually help launch Operation Airbrake, which our Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable lawyers have discussed and praised.

The American Truck Associations (ATA) on the other hand, is a coalition of trucking industry interests. The ATA is notorious for pushing back against federal regulations, safety rules, and pursuing less regulation of the increasingly dangerous industry. Our attorneys have discussed the ATA and its efforts to limit safety on this blog before.

The Clearinghouse was mandated as part of the MAP-21 Act, and was officially announced in February of 2014. The Clearinghouse rule has been proposed and will become effective late 2015 or early in 2016.

Steven Gursten Photo

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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