ATA wants problem-driver clearinghouse

Sept. 1, 2007
Getting problem drug and/or alcohol users off the road permanently is the main reason behind the push by the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) to create a centralized clearinghouse for positive drug- and alcohol-testing results among truck drivers. If you compare [this approach] to what was done with the CDL, you now have one licensing system that is still administered by the states, [but where] a lot

Getting problem drug and/or alcohol users off the road permanently is the main reason behind the push by the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) to create a centralized clearinghouse for positive drug- and alcohol-testing results among truck drivers.

“If you compare [this approach] to what was done with the CDL, you now have one licensing system that is still administered by the states, [but where] a lot of the abuses and duplicate licenses have gone away,” truck safety expert Bob Inderbitzen, president of consulting firm REI Safety Services, told Fleet Owner.

“I don't know what a clearinghouse would be, but it seems that if you had one national database that the states and individual companies fed into, it would go a long way toward eliminating the potential of putting one of these drivers on the road,” he noted.

“ATA and its members believe that state-based reporting efforts are a good first step, but the optimal solution is a national clearinghouse,” said Bill Graves, ATA's president & CEO, who is urging Congress to authorize and fund such a clearinghouse. Currently, five states have instituted a drug and alcohol clearinghouse, he said.

Drug and alcohol violations, it should be noted, are extremely low among the truck driver population today. FMCSA estimates that 2% of CDL holders use controlled substances, with 0.2% using alcohol — registering at least a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04 — while performing their duties.

“I personally don't think you will see much improvement over the 2% you are seeing now, because there will always be some noise level of abuse that will be hard to eliminate,” said Inderbitzen. “I'm not sure that goes away by establishing a clearinghouse; [the 2% rate] really gets lower by making sure drivers who abuse drugs and/or alcohol have their CDLs pulled so they never drive a commercial vehicle again,” he added. “At the same time, companies who take shortcuts and don't perform drug and alcohol diligence should be severely penalized.”

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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