National Database Will List Commercial Drivers Who Failed Drug Testsby Jana Ritter - Published: 10/17/2016
Truck drivers should be aware that there will soon be a live database of commercial drivers who have failed drug and alcohol tests. For years, the USDOT has been trying to push this measure through and despite strong opposition from many truckers, the government has given its final approval.
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Groups such as the Truck Safety Coalition and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have backed the USDOT’s proposed database and after submitting it for approval last May, the government has finally jumped on board as well. The database will list all commercial truck drivers who failed a drug or alcohol test, and will also include drivers who refused to take tests. “Drivers who have previously violated drug and alcohol testing, and especially those who are repeat violators, pose a significant risk to the driving public,” stated the Truck Safety Coalition. Those in support also state that it will make roads safer by preventing drivers previously fired for substance abuse, from moving on to future jobs with other trucking companies.
The USDOT says the database will help trucking employers conduct more thorough background checks and ensure they are hiring the safest drivers for the job. “The issue you have is that truck carriers don’t always have the complete information about a prospective employee,” stated Amy Witherite, partner at Eberstein & Witherite. “So this database could simplify the process of hiring, because truck company owners can use it as another tool to determine if a full background check is needed on a prospective hire.” Not surprisingly, many trucking companies are in support of a national database, as it will also likely lower the number of truck accidents, which cost the company and also risk liability when one of their drivers causes a crash while impaired.
Of course those who will be affected most by this change aren’t too happy about the database at all and many truck drivers argue that company owners could use the information against them in a punitive way. The Owner-Operated Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has voiced the strongest opposition and submitted a report to the U.S. Treasure Department stating, “The report of a bad drug test can be the end of a driver’s employability.” The group also expressed their concern that employers could falsely report a positive drug or alcohol test as a way to “punish or retaliate against drivers.”
But those in favor of the proposal argue that a national database would only provide the same information that truck drivers are already legally required to provide when applying for a new job. The information would still not be accessible to the public and would help solve the current problem of drivers who simply lie about their past records on new job applications. Database supporters also state that many smaller truck carriers don’t have the time or money to conduct thorough background checks on every driver and this allows many who have been fired from multiple jobs for drug and alcohol offenses to slip through the cracks and continue driving despite posing a clear and present danger to others on the road.