The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse is off to a dismal start for drivers and carriers frustrated by delays and error messages as they attempt to register in the system, according to sources contacted by FreightWaves.
The clearinghouse, which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) opened for background queries Monday, Jan. 6, is expected to close a major loophole that had allowed drivers with drug or alcohol violations to get hired by trucking companies by lying about test failures. All drivers starting new jobs are required to register.
But while registration opened in October, many of those waiting to register Monday or within the last week have experienced significant problems.
"All of our administrative staff have been able to get registered, but we're having issues with queries because the website keeps timing out," Marilyn Surber, transportation adviser for trucking compliance consultant Tenstreet, told FreightWaves Monday. "At first it wasn't letting you log in, but then it wouldn't allow you to purchase query plans either. The whole system is working intermittently." Surber emphasized to carrier clients not using her company to anticipate delays "and expect to keep attempting your submissions until the clearinghouse accepts them."
Bill Hood, chief marketing officer for VLocity Group, said it appeared that a high volume of users may have crashed the system. "The best indicator that we have on what is happening besides not being able to access the sites is the call and chat volume with the FMCSA is 10 to 20 times higher than we have ever experienced," Hood told clients in an email.
"We are also noticing that any processing that we do that would normally be handled overnight is taking multiple days."
An anonymous source posting a response to a recent FreightWaves article had been trying to register for a week. "You jump one hurdle and they put up another one. Now I'm waiting for the FMCSA to get back to me. They say they're too busy to reply at this time. All we can do is the best we can do and document, document, document," the source wrote.
An FMCSA source told FreightWaves that the agency plans to issue an update on the situation later in the day.