This article is from the The Importance of FMCSA DataQs/Registration Resources for the FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse session during ISRI2021. Many of the programs available in ISRI2021 will remain available to convention registrants through May 20 on demand. The exhibit hall will remain open during that time as well.

During ISRI2021, Commodor Hall, ISRI’s senior director of safety, broke down DataQs and how to file them. He also discussed FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse’s impact with keeping bad drivers off the road.

What is a DataQ?

An online system for drivers, motor carriers, Federal and State agencies, and others to file concerns about Federal and state data in the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) and released to the public by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You can request and track a review of Federal and state data issued by FMCSA that may be incomplete or incorrect. The system automatically forwards the Request for Data Review (RDR) to the appropriate office and collects updates and responses for current Requests.

How do you file DataQs?

The DataQs website will guide you through the filing process. Reasons for filing a challenge include incorrect roadside inspections, Department of Transportation (DOT) recordable crashes, an error in a written violation, or if the violation was not actually a violation.

Once the DataQ is filed, the FMCSA forwards the challenge to the designated state safety office and administrator for review. If they decide to uphold the state police’s judgement, the motor carrier can file a rebuttal with additional supporting documents. The FMCSA considers the state’s decision as final.

Keys to Successful DataQs

Conduct research and use supporting documents. Rely on facts, not opinions. Compare regulations and interpretations to the situation you are reviewing. If you are not familiar with a regulation, seek advice from a subject matter expert so you develop a clear and concise argument. Use supporting documents such as driver statements, repair orders from vehicle maintenance, and photos taken via cell phone.

FMCSA’s Crash Preventability Determination Program

In 2017, FMCSA announced a Crash Preventability Demonstration Program (CPDP) to evaluate the preventability of eight categories of crashes through submissions of RDR to FMCSA’s DataQs system. In August 2019, based on experiences with the demonstration program, FMCSA proposed a new CPDP—expanding the types of eligible crashes—with a streamlined process. The program allows motor carriers or drivers involved in specific crash types to submit RDRs through FMCSA’s DataQs system. Crashes must have occurred on or after Aug. 1, 2019, and the RDR must include the police accident report.

Requirements for the Program

Include a copy of the police accident report. If the driver was involved in a fatality, submit all required drug and alcohol tests. If tests were not performed, submit explanatory documentation and the timeframe. The evidence should be compelling—the crash is eligible and not preventable. Do not include graphic photos. The program will provide updates and accompanying steps, if necessary.

How does the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse work?

A secure online database, the Clearinghouse gives employers, the FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs), and state law enforcement personnel real-time information about commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations. The Clearinghouse enables employers to identify drivers who commit a drug and alcohol program violation while working for one employer and do not inform another employer (as required by current regulations).

Who is authorized to use the Clearinghouse?

CDL drivers, employers, consortia or third-party administrators, medical review officers, substance abuse professionals, and law enforcement personnel are all authorized to use the Clearinghouse.

Key Requirements for Clearinghouse

All motor carriers must register in the Clearinghouse. Drivers must be registered and should register themselves if they have switched employers or had a violation. When hiring a new CDL driver, let them know what you are required to report to the Clearinghouse, get a signed consent form so you can run limited annual queries, and then purchase a full pre-employment query from the Clearinghouse.

On an annual basis, run a limited query on all drivers subject to DOT testing. Report any violations to the Clearinghouse within three business days. Violations include any refusals, knowledge of violation, a positive test your medical review officer did not report, or any negative return to duty tests and follow up tests. Do not use a driver who is prohibited from driving based on Clearinghouse rules and reports from a previous employer.