According to a recent article published in Transport Topics, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) plans to continue urging government officials to establish a comprehensive drug and alcohol testing program. Following the Canadian federal election in October, a new group of officials was elected, and according to Jonathan Blackham, director of policy and public affairs for CTA, the alliance plans to target new officials in their lobbying efforts. “We’ll start the process over again with them, and we’ll make our case and see how things go,” said Blackham.
According to Blackham, since the legalization of cannabis in October 2018, trucking companies have re-evaluated the language used in their policies on impairment. For instance, the phrase “illegal drug use” in such policies may need to be updated to include cannabis, since it is currently legal. Moreover, drug and alcohol policies are not officially required by the government.
“That’s something CTA has been calling on the Canadian government to take on to develop something that would closely mirror the U.S. regulations… When we say we want a comprehensive drug and alcohol program, really what we’re saying is employers want the ability to randomly test domestic-only drivers, which they don’t necessarily have right now,”Jonathan Blackham, Dir. of Policy & Public Affairs for CTA, to Transport Topics.
The CTA supports a zero-tolerance policy for commercial drivers, which has already been implemented in Ontario. Although zero-tolerance is the industry norm among transport carriers, many companies do not go through the legal procedure when an employee refuses to take a drug or alcohol test. Moreover, the organization has been calling for increased mobile testing resources and infrastructure for roadside cannabis testing. According to Blackham, so far, the government has approved two roadside oral fluid screening devices for roadside testing; however, their use and effectiveness have been limited.
The American, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), regulated under the Department of Transportation (DOT), established the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse to keep track of commercial truck drivers’ related violations. The Clearinghouse is an online repository of data that carriers, state driver licensing agencies, law enforcement officials will be able to use to check a commercial driver license holder’s drug and alcohol violations. The data repository is scheduled to begin operating on January 6, 2020, and Canadian carriers operating in the U.S. will need to comply with it as well.
“Right now, it’s about education for us and making sure that folks understand it applies to Canadian fleets who operate in the U.S.,” Blackham said.
The DATAC has a free course that goes over what the FMCSA Clearinghouse Database is, exactly, and how it is to be used. The course covers the requirements each entity involved has for reporting and/or checking with the database as required by the DOT regulations. You can access the free FMSCA Database course here!