DG Digest: FMCSA lowers truckers’ substance test rates, will hold FAST sessions; FRA begins PTC data collection

truckDecember 24: FMCSA cuts random truckers’ testing rate for substance abuse to 25%.

Good news for truck drivers and carriers—the United States Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has cut the random testing rate for substance abuse in half, from 50% to 25%.

This should produce a nice savings for carriers, since by law such testing is conducted by third party medical vendors to ensure objectivity. It will also mean less inconvenience for the CDL drivers who are subject to testing.

The change reflects a less than 1% reported positive result rate for the last three years.  FMCSA notes that it retains the right to raise the percentage back to 50% in the future, if reported positive test numbers seem to require it.

December 24: FMCSA announces “listening sessions” to recognize carriers under the new FAST act.

The recently enacted Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act mandates recognition for motor carriers that install advanced safety equipment and other safety measures. These listening sessions will discuss ways to create a new voluntary compliance program to reward carriers and drivers who voluntarily exceed the requirements.

FMCSA notes that these safety measures also include “enhanced driver fitness measures, fleet safety management tools, technologies, and programs and other standards for use by motor carriers to receive recognition, including credit or an improved Safety Measurement System (SMS) percentile.”

The listening sessions will take place on Jan. 12 in Louisville, and Jan. 31 in Atlanta. See the Federal Register entry for details on attendance and internet access.

December 28: FRA substance abuse testing stays at 25%; alcohol at 10%.

With the railroad industry continuing to report strong “less-than 1% positive test” compliance, the USDOT’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is maintaining its 25% rate for random substance abuse testing, while alcohol testing rates will also remain unchanged at 10%.

These important rules cover both train crews and vital off-the-train system operating personnel.

December 28: FRA begins data collection in support of new PTC deadline.

When Congress extended the Positive Train Control (PTC) deadline to 2018, the compromise included greater federal monitoring of railroads’ progress towards completion. To support this monitoring, FRA proposes collecting data such as:

  • The calendar year(s) when wireless spectrum required for PTC operation will be acquired and available for use
  • The total amount of PTC hardware the railroad must install
  • The total number of employees the railroad must train; and
  • The total number of employees that will receive training by the end of each calendar year

For more detail about the FRA’s new data collection, see the Federal Register entry.


For more information about these regulatory updates, please contact Nikki Burgess, Labelmaster’s staff regulatory specialist.


Labelmaster is a full-service provider of goods and services for the Hazardous Materials and Dangerous Goods professional, shippers, transport operators, and EH&S providers. See our full line of solutions at www.labelmaster.com.

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