DACH Will Now Notify Employers of Changes to Driver’s Record.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will now notify employers of any changes to a driver’s Clearinghouse record for up to 12 months after the last query related to that driver.  The notice will allow a current employer to know if a driver has any information in the DACH related to another employer or prospective employer, and whether the driver is prohibited from operating a CMV due to violations related to the other employer.

Previously, after conducting a pre-employment query, an employer received a notification from the Clearinghouse if there was a change to that driver’s Clearinghouse record within 30 days. FMCSA has expanded the employer notifications.  As of March 8, 2023, an employer will be notified via email when a driver they have queried has new information recorded in their Clearinghouse record within 12 months of a pre-employment or annual query. The Query History will also be updated to reflect when new information is available.

The new information in a Clearinghouse record may include changes such as an update in return-to-duty status, a removed violation, or a new violation. A full follow-on query is needed to determine if the new information results in the driver having a “Prohibited” Clearinghouse status.

The employer should complete a full follow-on query within 24 hours to determine if the new information prohibits the driver from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle.

In order for the employer to conduct the follow-on query, the driver must provide specific consent electronically in the Clearinghouse. In accordance with 49 CFR 382.703(c), if the driver refuses to grant specific consent, the employer must remove the driver from safety-sensitive functions until a full query is conducted and the results obtained. Once the full query is conducted, the driver may resume safety-sensitive functions only if the query returns a “Not Prohibited” status.

If the employer uses the “Send Consent Request” prompt on the Query History screen, they will not be charged for the follow-on query. The follow-on query will also satisfy the employer’s annual query requirement, and employers will receive notifications of changes to the driver’s record within 12 months of a follow-on query.

Employers who have previously conducted a query on a driver will be notified by email when there is new information in a driver’s Clearinghouse record if the query was initiated on or after September 14, 2022 and the new information was recorded after March 8, 2023.  All users registered under the employer, including Assistants, will receive the notification email. If a consortium third-party administrator (C/TPA) initiated the query on behalf of the employer, the C/TPA’s Clearinghouse users will also receive the notification email. These users will also see a notice of new information in the Query History.

For more details, see the updated Frequently Asked Questions which are on the Clearinghouse website.

FMCSA Proposed Revisions to Safety Measurement System.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced proposed changes to its Safety Measurement System, used to identify and prioritize at risk motor carriers for enforcement and compliance interventions.

Since 2010, the agency has used the carrier’s score in Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) based on the carrier’s on-road performance and/or investigation results. A carrier’s relative on-road performance is indicated by its BASIC percentile. Investigation results reflect if any Acute and/or Critical (A/ C) violations are found in a given BASIC during investigations. A carrier can be prioritized for interventions because its percentile is at or above the Intervention Threshold and/or it has one or more A/ C violations related to a particular BASIC.

The SMS quantifies the safety performance of motor carriers using data available in FMCSA’s motor carrier database, the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). This database includes violations found during inspections, traffic enforcement, and investigations, as well as crash and motor carrier census data.  In addition, the SMS provides motor carriers, shippers, brokers, insurers and other stakeholders with safety performance data, which is updated monthly, through a public website. Under section 5223 of the FAST Act, FMCSA removed SMS percentiles and alerts from the public SMS website for motor carriers transporting property. But inspection, investigation, crash, and registration data for property carriers remain publicly available.

In June 2017, at the direction of Congress, the National Academies of Sciences released a report to FMCSA after reviewing the SMS methodology.  The NAS report concluded that SMS, in its current form, is structured in a reasonable way and its method of identifying motor carriers for alert status is defensible.  But the NAS report recommended that the agency adopt an Item Response Theory (IRT) model to identify and prioritize carriers for interventions, and if the ITR model worked well, it should replace the SMS.  The NAS report also made six specific recommendations to improve the SMS.

The FMCSA said its “IRT modeling work revealed many limitations and practical challenges with using an IRT model. As a result, FMCSA has concluded that IRT modeling does not perform well for the Agency’s use in identifying motor carriers for safety interventions, and therefore, does not improve overall safety.”  Thus, the FMCSA will not replace SMS with an IRT model and will instead attempt to improve its SMS model.

Those proposed improvements include reorganizing the BASICs, which are now called “safety categories,” to better identify specific safety problems.  The FMCSA will also combine the 959 violations used in SMS, plus 14 additional violations not currently used in SMS, into 116 violation groups.  In addition, the changes include simplifying violation severity weights, removing percentile jumps that occur when carriers move into a new safety event group, and adjusting the Intervention Thresholds.

Also, the agency will incorporate several previously proposed improvements to SMS, included moving certain Out-of-Service (OOS) violations to the Unsafe Driving BASIC, segmenting the Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance BASIC, focusing on recent violations, and updating the Utilization Factor.

Comments on the proposal are due May 16, 2023.

The FMCSA also noted that a new website, the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) Prioritization Preview, is now live, and is the first phase of planned updates to the agency’s SMS. Motor carriers can visit the website to preview how their data would appear under the proposed changes. The agency encourages companies to preview these results and submit feedback on the proposed changes to FMCSA at the Federal Register website on the rulemaking. Other users will be able to view sample pages.

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