Drug Test Database for Truck Drivers Planned

     WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Department of Transportation plans to create a database of information about commercial driver drug tests, it announced.
     The Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) plans to create the drug and alcohol test clearinghouse for information on commercial driver's licenses holders, as part of the implementation of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.
     Under FMCSA's proposal, employers using commercial drivers in interstate commerce would have to report information to the clearinghouse about positive drug and alcohol test results by its employees.
     The proposed rule also would require those employers to search the clearinghouse before hiring new employees and to search the database for positive test results annually.
     The database would contain mandated information on "verified positive, adulterated, and substituted drug test results, positive alcohol test results, test refusals, negative return-to-duty test results, and information on follow-up testing" input by "FMCSA-regulated motor carrier employers, Medical Review Officers, Substance Abuse Professionals, and consortia/third party administrators supporting U.S. Department of Transportation testing programs."
     FMCSA plans to enhance compliance by mandating yearly reports from all laboratories performing DOT drug and alcohol testing for FMCSA-regulated employers, The reports will point out which employers do not have a testing program in place.
     The proposed rule also would require employers to report known traffic citations for driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
     The proposal referenced a 1999 bus crash in New Orleans that killed 22 passengers, in it's announcement. The driver had been using marijuana and antihistamines before driving, and had previously failed pre-employment drug tests.
     "The current background check system does not provide employers with enough tools to accurately identify commercial driver's license holders who have received positive drug or alcohol test results or have otherwise violated the drug and alcohol testing requirements and who are, therefore, not qualified to operate a CMV prior to completing the return-to-duty process," the department wrote.
     "Employers must rely on information provided by the driver, who might not list part-time driving jobs or a prior or prospective employer that has records of positive drug or alcohol tests or other related violations. Or, after testing positive with one prospective employer, the driver might wait until the substance is out of his or her system and apply with a different carrier."
     "As a result, such drivers continue to operate [commercial vehicles] after violating the drug and alcohol regulations without completing the required return-to-duty process." (Brackets added.)
     The department estimates that the costs of the proposed rule "are about equal to its benefits" and that it would create "about $187 million in annual benefits from increased crash reduction."
     Comments on the plans are due April 21.