Driver Insights

Clearinghouse soon to be sole means of investigating FMCSA testing violations

October 24, 2022


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is removing the drug and alcohol history questions from the safety performance history inquiries effective January 6, 2023. The only means of learning of violations occurring under FMCSA testing (Part 382) is a query of the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse (DACH).

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Driver Layoffs versus Terminations - What is Required to Stay Compliant?

October 12, 2022


If a driver is terminated and removed from the driver roster after a seasonal layoff, the driver must be treated as a rehire if they return. An entire DQ file is needed.

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Using Safety Scores to Reduce Risk

September 16, 2022


The basic premise of risk reduction is that you need to be able to use the data to see trends. This process tells you what is predictable when it comes to future risks. Once you know what is predictable, you can then take steps to avoid the risk.

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My Driver Tested Positive - Now What?

July 6, 2022


Total drug and alcohol violations in 2021 climbed to 59,252, a 10 percent increase over 2020. So far, the trend seems to be continuing in 2022, with a year-over-year increase of 16 percent in January. The cause of the increase is unknown. Perhaps the stress of the pandemic has led more drivers to self-medicate, or the driver shortage has resulted in carriers hiring questionable employees. No matter the cause, you need to know how to handle the situation if one of your drivers tests positive for a controlled substance.

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Five Stages of Effective Coaching

June 12, 2022


Carriers must transition from reacting to motor vehicle record (MVR) violations and crashes to proactive behavior correction to reduce the potential for damaging litigation. Carriers can benefit from a system that monitors and prioritizes the riskiest compliance and behavior data.


After identifying the coachable events, the key is getting drivers to take accountability for positive change. Five stages of an effective coaching session are:

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Non-regulated fleet vehicles: Mitigate the risk of unsafe driving

May 9, 2022


Drivers who operate company vehicles that are not subject to federal or state safety regulations may fly under the radar since there is no requirement to track the employee’s safety record.


Most insurance companies require a motor vehicle record (MVR) to determine whether a driver will be covered under the employer’s policy. But is this enough to counter claims of negligence in the event of a serious accident involving these drivers?

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Keys to avoid the top Driver Qualification violations

April 4, 2022


Driver qualification violations can arise during roadside inspections and FMCSA audits. Offenses that involve unqualified commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers increase potential liability. Safety management controls are needed to keep unqualified drivers from operating CMVs and avoid:

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Clearinghouse FAQs for Owner-Operators

March 8, 2022


1. Who is an owner-operator?


Owner-operators are employers that employ themselves as CDL drivers, typically a single-driver operation. Owner-operators who are leased to another motor carrier are placed in the motor carrier’s DOT testing program.

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DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing 

February 22, 2022

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds of drug and alcohol program testing requirements. If you don’t have a thorough understanding of when and whom to test, you risk putting drivers on the road who could be a danger to themselves and others. The requirements for drug and alcohol testing are set forth in Parts 40 and 382 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

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It’s better to know when it comes to data!

January 24, 2022

When it comes to data, some in the industry claim you are better off not knowing what your carrier’s numbers look like. The argument goes something like this, “How can we be held responsible for something we didn’t know about?” Advocates of this approach argue that it’s better to pretend they didn’t know the data was there than to take the time to gather the data and try to use it properly.

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Unsafe Driving BASIC: Have you been ‘warned’?

December 13, 2021

A warning letter from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is sent to motor carriers who have identifiable, but not yet severe, safety issues.

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When to Join a Drug & Alcohol Consortium

November 17, 2021

I was recently contacted by a carrier with two drivers of CMVs requiring CDLs wanting to know if they had to be part of a consortium for their DOT random drug and alcohol pool. The short answer is no. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) only specify that there must be two or more covered employees in a random testing pool.

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Perform DQ file self-audits: Don't take the risk of not knowing

November 11, 2021

Each year, driver qualification violations appear in the list of top acute and critical violations discovered during motor carrier audits.

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New year, new beginning: A time to review your DOT testing program

October 18, 2021

The end of any calendar year is a time to closely monitor your DOT drug and alcohol testing program. Examine the following six points on program management as 2021 draws to a close.

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Motor Vehicle Records (MVRs) Frequently Asked Questions 

August 19, 2021

Understanding what MVRs are and why checking them often will reduce your risk. Because past behavior is a good predictor of a driver’s future actions, your drivers’ motor vehicle records (MVRs) are a vital piece of your safety management program. By identifying risky behaviors now, you can help prevent crashes tomorrow.

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Who Keeps Owner-Operators' Records?

August 17, 2021

Independent owner-operators who operate under their own authority are required to keep a variety of records for DOT compliance. But when those same owner-operators sign on to work for another motor carrier — even temporarily — the picture changes.

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Owner-operators: Avoid These Record Keeping Traps

July 15, 2021

Owner-operators often need to wear many hats, including driver, mechanic, dispatcher, and safety director. When it comes to DOT compliance, “record keeper” is another vital role.

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Who Needs a Driver Qualification (DQ) File?

May 14, 2021

Many people think a driver's qualification (DQ) file goes hand-in-hand with a commercial driver's license (CDL). This misconception has created confusion (and compliance issues) for many carriers. For interstate drivers, the need for a DQ file is based on the size and type of vehicle, not the type of license a driver holds.

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What is a Return-to-Duty Test?

March 16, 2021

A return-to-duty test is conducted as a part of the Return-to-Duty process of Subpart O of Part 40. When a driver has a DOT drug and alcohol violation, he or she must complete specific steps in order to resume safety-sensitive functions.

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More Frequent MVRs Reduce the Risk of Not Knowing

February 16, 2021

Even if a motor carrier faithfully requests the required annual motor vehicle record (MVR) on its driver, a driver's more recent history can go undetected up to 12 months. Of course, commercial drivers are supposed to notify employers of loss of driving privileges and certain violations between MVRs. If a driver doesn't let the carrier know, is the carrier still held responsible? Unfortunately, yes. And the implications can go beyond compliance.

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What Needs to Be in a New Driver's File?

January 13, 2021

Onboarding a new driver requires putting a system in place to ensure everything is complete — and completed on time. Putting an unqualified driver, even inadvertently, behind the wheel of your commercial motor vehicle (CMV) opens your carrier up to fines in the event of an audit and nuclear verdicts if the driver is involved in a high-profile crash.

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How to Request Your First Annual Clearinghouse Queries

December 14, 2020

The one-year anniversary of the CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse should be a reminder that annual queries are coming due. A motor carrier must request its first annual queries no later than January 5, 2021, for those drivers who were in a Part 382 program on January 6, 2020. Anyone hired after would need an annual query within a year of the pre-employment query; similar to how the annual motor vehicle record is requested under driver qualification.

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Prepare Your Drug & Alcohol Program for 2021

October 9, 2020

The end of any calendar year is a time to closely monitor your DOT drug and alcohol testing program. Two crucial deadlines are fast approaching as 2020 draws to a close.

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5 FAQs on Annual Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Queries 

December 1, 2020

It's been almost a year since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched the Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. This one-year anniversary should be a reminder to many that annual queries are coming due.

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Hours of Service Changes

Effective September 29, 2020

Changes to the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations are set to go into effect September 29, 2020. With many drivers already struggling to understand or comply with the HOS regulations, these upcoming changes pose yet another challenge. 

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