TRUCKERS CLASH WITH REGULATORS

Topic 14698 | Page 1

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Serah D.'s Comment
member avatar

Truckers clash with regulators

Truck drivers are battling with the Obama administration over a long-delayed proposal related to drug and alcohol testing.

The Transportation Department is moving to establish a national database — also known as a clearinghouse — that would list truck drivers who have failed drug and alcohol tests. It would also list drivers who have refused to take the test.

The administration and supporters of the proposal say the database would make it easier for employers to conduct background checks before they hire new drivers. “Drivers who have previously violated drug and alcohol testing, and especially those who are repeat violators, pose a significant risk to the driving public,” the Truck Safety Coalition said in comments filed with the Transportation Department.

The department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sent the rule to the White House last month for final approval after a two-year delay.

Safety advocates, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, argue the database will help keep dangerous drivers off the road by closing a loophole that allows truck drivers who have been fired for substance abuse to continue operating commercial motor vehicles.

Trucking companies also support the rule, which could save them money by cutting back on crashes. Having a central database could also shield them from liability when accidents occur.

“Motor carriers support it, because they want to hire safe, qualified drivers, and they need full and complete histories of prospective drivers to do that,” said Rob Abbott, vice president of safety policy at the American Trucking Associations.

But truck drivers fear former employers could use the database to unfairly punish drivers.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which represents some 150,000 truck drivers, is concerned that trucking companies will use the threat of falsely reported alcohol and drug tests to “punish or retaliate against drivers.”

“The report of a bad drug test can be the end of a driver’s employability,” the OOIDA told the Treasury Department.

The Transportation Department already requires truck drivers to report failed tests to their current and future employers, but safety advocates doubt that the “self-reporting” requirements are effective.

Without a national database to track the results, drivers who have been fired can find jobs with new employers. That could have “deadly consequences,” according to the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

“Unless a history of drug and alcohol violations are voluntarily supplied, the employers lack adequate information to avoid hiring these dangerous drivers,” according to the Truck Safety Coalition.

In addition, not every company that employs a driver is notified when a driver fails a drug or alcohol test. Working for multiple trucking companies is common in the industry.

“In the interest of safety, the clearinghouse should immediately notify all of a driver’s employers when the driver is to be removed from a safety sensitive position,” the American Trucking Associations wrote.

“If such a process is not provided, employers will be forced to rely on the honesty of their employees to inform them of their non-compliance,” it added. “Yet, there is little to compel an employee in such circumstances to do so.”

Trucking companies and safety advocates are pushing the administration to strengthen the rule so that the database includes drivers who avoided being tested by admitting to substance abuse problems.

The American Trucking Associations argues that truck drivers who either admitted to or were observed by their employers using drugs or alcohol should also be included in the database.

But the truck drivers group says trucking companies often use the tests unfairly.

“One scheme motor carriers use is to require a driver to take a drug test at a date and time that is impossible for the driver to meet — whether due to the distance the driver must travel to the drug testing facility or the simultaneous work demands of the carrier,” the OOIDA wrote.

“Another scheme is to tag a driver with a refusal after the driver is terminated or resigns from the motor carrier,” it added.

I think it's a good idea. What say you?

Commercial Motor Vehicle:

A commercial motor vehicle is any vehicle used in commerce to transport passengers or property with either:

  • A gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • A gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more which includes a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds
  • Dm:

    Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

    The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

    OOIDA:

    Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association

    Who They Are

    OOIDA is an international trade association representing the interests of independent owner-operators and professional drivers on all issues that affect truckers. The over 150,000 members of OOIDA are men and women in all 50 states and Canada who collectively own and/or operate more than 240,000 individual heavy-duty trucks and small truck fleets.

    Their Mission

    The mission of OOIDA is to serve owner-operators, small fleets and professional truckers; to work for a business climate where truckers are treated equally and fairly; to promote highway safety and responsibility among all highway users; and to promote a better business climate and efficiency for all truck operators.

    HOS:

    Hours Of Service

    HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

It's a good idea but OOIDA is right:

[OOIDA] is concerned that trucking companies will use the threat of falsely reported alcohol and drug tests to “punish or retaliate against drivers.”

DAC reporting has been rife with fraud forever. There are very few regulations dictating who can put information about you on your DAC or what can be put there so companies have been known to report falsehoods either mistakenly or in retaliation. So obviously it would be good to have a national database like that but the oversight must be spot on. You can't have any of the garbage that goes on with DAC. It has to be accurate and the administrators need to be held accountable for what gets put on there.

Right now the DAC is run like a credit reporting agency. If you find something false on your DAC the company has 30 days to respond. If they can't prove what they said is true then it gets pulled from the report. But that's not good enough for something as serious as failed drug tests.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

OOIDA:

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association

Who They Are

OOIDA is an international trade association representing the interests of independent owner-operators and professional drivers on all issues that affect truckers. The over 150,000 members of OOIDA are men and women in all 50 states and Canada who collectively own and/or operate more than 240,000 individual heavy-duty trucks and small truck fleets.

Their Mission

The mission of OOIDA is to serve owner-operators, small fleets and professional truckers; to work for a business climate where truckers are treated equally and fairly; to promote highway safety and responsibility among all highway users; and to promote a better business climate and efficiency for all truck operators.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

I think it's a great idea. One of my co-workers at my last job, which was a non-cdl driving job, showed up to work one day totally drugged up. He held a class A cdl , but was so messed up he couldn't even walk straight. We all nagged our boss about it, who drove him to the clinic. Preliminary tests were positive for meth and coke. I was furious, and thankfully the guy was terminated on the spot. I mean, he couldn't even walk straight and he was planning in driving an hour up to Cheyenne and driving around residential neighborhoods all day.

Well, I found out later the drug test...according to my boss...wasn't reported to the DOT. So that's why Im in favor of something like this.

But Brett's right--checks and balances would need to be in place.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Chris the stick slinger's Comment
member avatar

Right now the DAC is run like a credit reporting agency. If you find something false on your DAC the company has 30 days to respond. If they can't prove what they said is true then it gets pulled from the report. But that's not good enough for something as serious as failed drug tests.

To think the feds do anything in a timely fashion is almost ludicrous. Add in oversight AND accountability.... Psssssshhhhh.

You commentary is spot on Brett.

By the way, I'm all for the idea. Alcohol and drugs have no place in professional driving.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

Robert B. (The Dragon) ye's Comment
member avatar

I agree that drugs and alcohol are a bad thing in our industry but to expect a government agency to properly execute a program with checks and balances in place without corruption? You're dreaming.

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