U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman (R-AR) today introduced legislation to close a well-known loophole in the commercial driving industry that currently enables drug and alcohol users to operate large trucks or 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. According to recent studies, out of 3.4 million drivers on the road, about 68,000 drivers tested positive for drug use.
"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," Pryor 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."
"Developing a record of drug testing information for commercial drivers will help secure our roads and provide a safer environment for Arkansans," Boozman said. "This is commonsense legislation that keeps drug users from operating some of the biggest vehicles on our roads. Arkansas has done this on a state level and it's time to share that information through a nationwide database."
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.
U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and David Vitter (R-LA) are co-sponsors of this legislation.