Automating Your DOT Clearinghouse Requirements

Lindsey Bergeron

NOTE: This article is an excerpt from our new ebook, “The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse: How it Works & its Impact on Your Time to Hire.” To download and read the full ebook, click here.

JANUARY 2, 2020 – As we’ve already noted, and you’ve surely heard before, recruiting and retention is a big issue in the industry right now – and it’s only expected to get worse over the next decade. If you want to secure top talent for your business, then you’ll need to invest time into the process. Getting drivers interested in driving for your company is an important part of this, but it’s not the only factor to consider. Once you have their interest, you need to have an efficient hiring and onboarding process in place so that you can get them behind the wheel as quickly as possible.

Related Article: Running a DOT Clearinghouse Check

Increasing the time-to-hire process begins with improving your business’ operational efficiencies. In many cases, working with a third-party provider can help keep things moving by automating many of your compliance processes so you can keep the focus on hiring and retention strategies for your business.

How a TPA Can Help

Especially as we move into the Clearinghouse era, having a Third-Party Administrator (TPA) who can help manage your compliance programs has never been more important. Carriers can authorize a TPA to work in the Clearinghouse on their behalf for the purpose of running queries on new drivers, completing the annual query process and reporting violations as they come up.

Under the new regulations, owner operators will actually be required to designate a TPA to manage their Clearinghouse requirements as they won’t be able to pull queries or report violations on themselves.

Download our Free Clearinghouse eBook Here!

Automated Compliance

The more drivers a carrier employs, the more complex and time-consuming this process becomes. Many simply don’t have the resources to manage all of the administrative tasks required by the new Clearinghouse regulations and focus on the day-to-day needs of their business.

However, a TPA that understands DOT background screening procedures will help you run Clearinghouse queries so you can get drivers on the road fast and compliantly. When looking for a TPA, you’ll want to keep the following in mind:

  • Do they comply with both the FCRA & Privacy Act?
  • Are they experts in DOT compliance?
  • Do they have an electronic system in place that automates many of your compliance processes?

The importance of an online, automated system can’t be understated – and that begins with an electronic DOT application. This application will collect all of the information needed to kick off the background screening process once you decide to hire a driver. With this information imported in your account, the following steps happen automatically:

  • The system requests driver consent for the full Clearinghouse query
  • A Clearinghouse query is run to satisfy the pre-employment requirement
  • The DOT background screening process is completed. This includes the prior employer verification process and obtaining a Motor Vehicle Report
  • A complete driver file is built
  • The driver is enrolled in a DOT-compliant drug and alcohol testing program
  • A pre-employment drug test is ordered for the driver

All of this information is available online in a secure portal environment where you can view driver records, update documents and download files as needed. At Foley, we also manage these files on an ongoing basis and send alerts when a CDL or medical card needs to be renewed. We also automatically run each driver’s annual MVR and upload it to their electronic file before the expiration date.

Ongoing Monitoring

A TPA can also automatically monitor each driver’s Clearinghouse record and send you an immediate notification when a violation is found. With drug positivity rates 51 percent higher in 2018 than the year prior, this process is a critical step in maintaining a safe and productive workforce.

If a limited query shows that a new violation exists, the TPA will request the driver’s consent to run a full query on their record immediately.

About the Author

Lindsey Bergeron is Editor of the Foley blog. Serving as transportation guru, she keeps an eye on the industry and its day-to-day evolution and developments, specifically writing about the various lifestyle, business and regulatory topics that are most relevant to motor carriers. Holding a degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Connecticut, she ran a successful content marketing firm before joining Foley at its Hartford hub. Her current expertise in transportation writing is built upon an extensive background in editing, feature writing and content development.

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