4 Crucial Driver Safety Laws in Trucking, Part II

Four Crucial Driver Safety Laws in Trucking: The Breakdown, Part II

How do the DRIVE-Safe Act, the Under 21 Military CDL Pilot Program, the Entry-Level Driver Training Rule, and CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse affect your fleet?

In Part I of this blog, we reviewed two of the key driver safety laws coming your way: the DRIVE-Safe Act and the Under 21 Military CDL Pilot Program. Part II will review the remaining new programs affecting fleets.

Entry-Level Driver Training Rule

While the DRIVE-Safe Act and Under 21 Military CDL Pilot Program are both measures that could positively impact the driver shortage, the Entry-Level Driver Training Rule not. It is a safety measure that is likely, unfortunately, to impact the shortage negatively. In summation, the Entry-Level Driver Training Rule is an attempt to raise the training bar within the trucking industry. Specifically, anybody pursuing a CDL will have to go through required training. No longer will it be sufficient to get by with previous experience — say, a person who was raised on a farm and knows how to use farm equipment — and simply study up, walk into the DMV, pass the CDL General Knowledge exam, and obtain a CDL.

The curriculum will now require classroom theory and behind-the-wheel training. While there are no specific hours milestone requirements, it will still be a specific, performance-based curriculum. A certified training provider registry will be established, similar to the medical examiner registry that has been online for a number of years.

When the bar is raised to get into the industry, labor supply will be impacted, no matter driver age.

The Entry-Level Driver Training Rule has already been finalized and published by the DOT, and will be implemented in January of 2020.

CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

The CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is another measure that while beneficial to the general safety and professionalism of the truck industry, has some downside. It will likely weed out some bad apples, but will probably result in losses — hopefully limited — in the workforce. This database will serve as a central repository for all drug and alcohol testing violations by CDL drivers, addressing a long-standing loophole in current reporting.

As part of the clearinghouse, all parties in the testing process will be required to report drug test findings. This includes data carriers, service agents, medical review officers (MROs), and substance-abuse professionals (SAPs). Specifically, carriers will have three days to report:

  • Tests with 0.04 or higher blood-alcohol content
  • Alcohol test refusals
  • Drug test refusals
  • Actual knowledge situations (observed use, admission to use, DUI traffic citation)
  • Negative return to duty tests
  • Successful completion of follow-up tests

MROs will have two days to report:

  • Verified positive, adulterated, or substituted test results
  • Results determined by MRO to be a refusal

And SAPs will have one day to report:

  • Identification of driver and date of the initial assessment was initiated
  • Completion of a return-to-duty process

Carrier Requirements

Carriers will be required to query the clearinghouse once a year as well as before hiring any driver applicant. This will set up two levels of checks to uncover any past violations. Carriers also will be required to make previous employer inquiries during the first three years until the clearinghouse is populated. There will be a dual burden on the carriers to query previous employers and query the clearinghouse until it is populated in three years’ time.

“The cost is going to go up, the burden is going to go up, and candidly, the drivers that have a problem are going to be discovered more easily as a result of the clearinghouse, which will take them out of the supply for a period of time if not forever, depending on whether they get their problem addressed,” observes expert Dave Osiecki of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting.

The CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will go into effect in January of 2020. The FMCSA is currently in the process of standing it up. There will be a registration and subscription fee, and some potential hiring delays as a result.

For more information on all four driver safety laws, download our full report on the pathway to safety.

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