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Last month, a semi-truck struck and killed a man near his disabled car on I-84 in Idaho.

The truck driver was investigated by FMCSA: last year, a motor carrier fired that trucker for failing a random drug test.

After the failed drug test, the driver didn’t comply with the required substance abuse assessment.

He was disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle.

And he shouldn’t have been driving on the day of that fatal semi crash on I-84.

The truck driver was declared an “imminent hazard to public safety” after the crash.

Starting in 2017, a new federal database will help prevent crashes caused by dangerous drivers.

New Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Rule

Starting in January 2017, FMCSA will maintain a centralized database—clearinghouse— of drug and alcohol violations committed by commercial drivers.

Motor carriers will be required to annually verify that their drivers are in compliance (“reporting”), and check on potential employees (“querying”) to see if the driver:

  • Tested positive for drugs or alcohol;
  • Refused drug and alcohol testing; or
  • Has undergone the drug and alcohol rehabilitation process in order to return to duty.
A brief overview of the clearinghouse rule, provided by FMCSA

A brief overview of the clearinghouse rule, provided by FMCSA.

This rule benefits public safety, but also motor carriers. They can use the clearinghouse to make informed, responsible hiring decisions.

It has the support of major trucking groups like the American Truckers Associations.

“Having information about a driver’s history is important to carriers when we make hiring decisions …

This clearinghouse will give carriers like mine peace of mind to know we are putting safe – and sober – drivers behind the wheel and on the road.”

– ATA Chairman Kevin Burch.

FMCSA estimates the annual net benefits at $42 million. Part of the economic benefit will come from the expected drop in truck crashes caused by drunk or drugged drivers.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is charged with investigating major truck crashes and other significant transportation events, will also have clearinghouse access.

“This is a major safety win for the general public and the entire commercial motor vehicle industry,” said FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling.

It is a rare pleasure to report on a federal rule change that is applauded by both the trucking industry and safety officials. It’s a good reminder that we all share the goal of safe roads.