Beginning Jan. 6, 2023, one of the categories of questions appearing on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration safety performance history inquiry will be removed. Motor carriers will no longer have to ask former employers questions about Part 382 violations.
What is Part 382? This is part of the Code of Federal Regulations covering Transportation, Title 49. This title is broken into seven chapters. Chapter 3 covers FMCSA and Department of Transportation, parts 300-399.
Part 382 covers controlled substances and alcohol use in testing. According to the FMCSA, "The purpose of this part is to establish programs designed to help prevent accidents and injuries resulting from the misuse of alcohol or use of controlled substances by drivers of commercial motor vehicles."
Are Safety Performance Histories Still Required?
Yes, motor carriers will still need to contact a driver’s former FMCSA employers from the past three years to confirm the following:
- General employment verification, typically confirming that the employee worked there, dates of employment, vehicles operated, and the like;
- DOT crash history within the previous three years. These are accidents as defined in §390.5 and appearing on the former employer’s accident register (§390.15); and
- Other accidents not qualifying as DOT crashes that the former employer is willing to provide (not mandated to do so). These might be minor fender benders that show a pattern of unsafe driving.
Additional questions on the inquiry are only permitted if they do not violate state and federal employment laws.
How do you Learn of FMCSA Testing Violations?
Violations occurring under Part 382 are captured by the CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. Pre-employment queries of the database will reveal drivers who have not yet completed the return-to-duty process and/or follow-up testing plan.
There has been an overlap between the Clearinghouse query and the safety performance history inquiries since the database’s launch in 2020.
Beginning Jan. 6, the Clearinghouse will have three years’ worth of recent history compared to what was requested directly from previous employers.
How do Carriers Discover DOT Testing Violations in Other Modes?
Motor carriers must contact former employers directly when an applicant:
- Worked in a mode other than highway in the previous three years, and
- Was subject to DOT testing.
Examples include rail, transit, pipeline, air, or maritime positions.
The motor carrier must ask the former employer the questions appearing in §40.25(b). A violation occurring under another DOT mode follows the employee to the highway mode and requires the return-to-duty process and follow-up tests (§382.501(a)).
Copies of Testing Records
The process of requesting additional information or copies of records does not change with the new safety performance history format.
If previous drug and alcohol history reveals a DOT testing violation but no indication of a completed follow-up testing program, the new employer must request information from the former employer to learn where the process left off.
The new carrier will need a copy of the substance abuse professional’s follow-up plan and a record of completed tests. The specific records, additional questions, and the parties requesting and releasing the information must be identified when the driver signs a written consent.
Planning Ahead & Key Dates to Know
In preparation for Jan. 6, the motor carrier should consider the following measures:
- Train everyone involved with vetting drivers on the new process,
- Make sure safety performance history forms are updated, and
- Communicate with service agents who provide driver qualifications and/or drug and alcohol services to ensure they are aware and ready to implement the new requirements.
Even though the prescribed method of gathering data on prospective and new drivers has changed, the information has not. Motor carriers must still act on what they receive.
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About the Author: Kathy Close is a transportation editor at J. J. Keller & Associates Inc. Her areas of expertise include transportation security, DOT drug and alcohol testing, and driver qualification. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.