New FMCSA registry shows substance abuse common in trucking

The trucking industry has long faced issues relating to truck driver substance abuse. A new registry organized by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is offering insight as to how widespread the problem is. The FMCSA’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse took shape in 2020. The database seeks to identify trucking industry violators across Virginia and the nation to help enhance industry safety.

According to Fleet Owner, the clearinghouse requires trucking companies to submit information about employees who violate substance abuse regulations on the job. After reviewing the numbers from its first 11 months in operation, the FMCSA has found high rates of substance abuse and low rates of registry compliance.

Low rates of compliance

Currently, there are an estimated 525,000 regulated motor carriers in operation across the nation. However, only about 150,000 of them registered with the clearinghouse despite facing requirements to do so. Fleet owners who fail to add their workers to the database face sanctions, including steep fines, for noncompliance.

High rates of substance abuse

Prospective employers and others conducted 2 million queries within the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse within its first 11 months in use. Those searches turned up roughly 50,000 violations. The majority of them, or 85% of them, involved truckers failing drug tests. Another 12% of violations involved truck drivers who refused to take drug tests at all. Altogether, the trucking industry stands to lose about 52,000 truckers a year due to substance abuse violations.

About 10% of the truck drivers who received substance abuse violations as a result of the clearinghouse have already begun working again.