Bekins


Sponsored By:

   The Nation  |  Business  |  Equipment  |  Features


Senate bill takes aim at drug test loophole for truckers

The Safe Roads Act would require medical review officers, employers, and service agents to report positive results from drug or alcohol tests to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; and would require employers to check the database prior to hiring prospective employers, leading to better hiring decisions and decreased employee liability.

The Trucker News Services

4/11/2011

WASHINGTON — Legislation to close a loophole that enables drug and alcohol users to operate large trucks or buses was introduced in the Senate last week.

The Safe Roads Act would implement a recommendation from the Government Accountability Office to establish a cost effective, feasible database of drug testing information for commercial drivers. 

Specifically, it would require medical review officers, employers, and service agents to report positive results from drug or alcohol tests to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; and would require employers to check the database prior to hiring prospective employers, leading to better hiring decisions and decreased employee liability. 

The bill would also provide privacy protections and employee rights of action. 

“Arkansas families’ safety is compromised everyday by truck and bus drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  We need to strengthen our current regulations to ensure these drivers can’t bypass the law,” bill sponsor MarkPryor, D—Ark., said. “A national clearinghouse is a practical way to ensure that the commercial driving industry is selecting the safest drivers possible to operate their large trucks and buses.”

Despite long standing drug and alcohol testing requirements, commercial drivers continue to drive 18- wheelers and buses even after testing positive. Factors contributing to this problem include applicants who do not report their drug testing history to new employers, carriers who do not fully complete background checks, and self-employed drivers who fail to remove themselves from service, Pryors statement said.  

According to recent studies, out of 3.4 million drivers on the road, about 68,000 drivers tested positive for drug use. 

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves applauded the Safe Roads Act.

“For over 15 years, commercial drivers have been required to submit to drug and alcohol testing to ensure they aren’t impaired while on the highway,” Graves said. “However, a loophole in the system allows drivers who test positive to evade the consequences of their actions by failing to disclose their complete work histories and positive test results to prospective employers. This important legislation will close that loophole and will improve the safety of our highways.”

Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at kevinj@thetrucker.com.

Find more news and analysis from The Trucker, and share your thoughts, on Facebook.