Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark, has submitted bill to congress calling for a national drug clearinghouse database for commercial vehicle operators. The bipartisan bill would record positive drug and alcohol test results and records of refusals to take the tests, according to the American Trucking Assns. (ATA), which has thrown its support behind the measure.

"ATA is very pleased that Sen. Pryor, along with senators (Olympia) Snowe, R-ME, (Ben) Nelson, D-NE, and (Roger) Wicker, R-MS, has taken this bold step to close a longstanding loophole in the drug and alcohol testing program," said Dave Osiecki, ATA vp of Safety, Security & Operations. "ATA will work to secure its passage because this bill will result in safer roads and a safer trucking industry."

The concept of a national database was included in the ATA's Safety Task Force recommendations. Dubbed the Safe Roads Act, Senate bill S. 1113 directs the U.S. Dept. of Transportation to create the database and authorizes $5 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to develop and deploy the clearinghouse.

Also, it would require medical review officers, employers and other service agents to report positive drug or alcohol tests to the FMCSA; require employers to cross reference prospective employees with the database prior to hiring and protect employees' privacy and define employees' rights to challenge the information in the database.

"When a driver moves from one trucking company to another, some positive drug and alcohol test results are not being discovered by the hiring company because the results are not centrally tracked," said Osiecki. "A national drug and alcohol clearinghouse will allow companies to more easily obtain this critical safety-related information during the hiring of commercial drivers."