The Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, with the backing
of the ATA, is hoping to set up a statewide database of employer records on
drivers’ drug test results.
Several such databases already exist in other states, such
as Washington, Oregon, North Carolina and Texas
Don Siekerman, safety director for the Pennsylvania Motor
Truck Association, told Land Line that the idea for the database is
still in its very early infancy.
“It’s in the preliminary stages of inquiry right now to see
if it’s even feasible through privacy laws, which in Pennsylvania are stricter
than in other states,” he said.
Siekerman said that, if it does come to fruition, the
database would either operate as a separate entity containing drug and alcohol
testing records for drivers, or the data would be incorporated into a driver’s
Siekerman said no matter how it’s handled, only two entities
would likely have access to the database – the state and federal governments,
and a given driver’s employer or prospective employer.
But Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said it doesn’t matter how the
database is handled – the very idea of it is off the mark.
“The proposal that they’ve laid out clearly does raise a
variety of privacy issues with truck drivers, but it also ignores the reality
that exists for truck drivers today,” he said.
Spencer said the reality is that drivers are already
required to be drug tested before they can go to work for most employers, and
they are tested again randomly thereafter.
“So all of the safeguards that are reasonable in terms of
making sure drugs aren’t a factor with truck drivers are already in place and
required of employers,” he said.
What’s more, Spencer said the databases ignore the bigger
picture of what’s going on in the trucking industry.
“The core issue here, that’s challenging for companies is
that they go through so many drivers and they are looking for anything they can
that can sort of help provide them with more warm bodies, and that kind of
misses the mark,” he said. “The focus shouldn’t be on how many new people we
can hire, but the things that we need to do to make sure the good drivers we
have stay this year, next year and ten years down the road.”
– By Terry Scruton, senior writer