As of January 6, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires trucking companies to conduct annual queries of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse on their drivers. The goal of these annual queries is to determine if drivers’ have records in the Clearinghouse that prohibit them from performing safety-sensitive functions such as operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). While the goal is to improve safety on the roads by removing unfit drivers, there are a few rules trucking companies need to know to remain compliant.
Driver Consent by Query Types
Trucking companies must obtain their drivers’ consent before making a query of the Clearinghouse. If the driver refuses to consent to the query, he or she is no longer authorized to operate a CMV or perform any other safety-sensitive tasks. For limited queries, drivers can provide consent external to the Clearinghouse either on paper or in an electronic format. If they provide a limited consent form, they must provide a time frame as well. For full queries, drivers must provide consent within the Clearinghouse.
Limited Versus Full Queries
Both limited and full queries satisfy the annual query requirement. Following a query, the one-year clock resets on that individual driver. Limited queries tell the employer if there is any information on the driver within the Clearinghouse but does not release any details otherwise. If the Clearinghouse returns a record, the employer must conduct a full query within 24 hours. Failure to do so prohibits drivers from operating CMVs.
A full query returns all information and records within the Clearinghouse about the driver. If the driver has active violations and has yet to complete all steps involved to return to duty, the driver cannot perform safety-sensitive functions. However, if the Clearinghouse indicates the driver has a negative return to duty (RTD) test for a violation record, the employer doesn’t need to take any action. A negative test indicates the driver completed all follow-up testing to return to duty.
Safety Measurement System (SMS) Updates
FMCSA updated the Compliance, Safety, Accountability SMS website with the latest motor carrier safety and performance data. The SMS uses the compiled data to identify risky motor carriers for targeted interventions. Motor carriers should log into the SMS website to review their records for any discrepancies. Doing so can help them avoid costly and time-consuming interventions. Keeping up with ever-changing safety regulations can be challenging, but the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers are here to help. Contact us to learn more about reducing risk at your trucking company.