There are a lot of regulations that truck drivers and motor carriers need to know about. There are these things called the BASICs, and there’s one category in particular called the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC that you might be wondering about. We get that all of these things can be overwhelming and intense, so we’re going to break down the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC. We’ll go over what it is, what can hurt you in that BASIC, and how you can improve. We’ve got some ground to cover, so we’ll get started!
What is the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC category?
The first thing we need to go over is what the Controlled Substances BASIC is. The BASICs are seven categories that the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) uses to show how a motor carrier is doing as compared to other, similar carriers. They do this by ranking them against others that have a similar number of safety events, such as inspections, violations, or crashes. This BASIC deals with the regulations found in 49 CFR Parts 382 and 392. It concerns the operation of CMVs by drivers who are impaired by alcohol, drugs, or misused prescriptions or over-the-counter medication.
(There are a few things that can cause a not-too-great score in this BASIC. These include drivers failing an alcohol test with an alcohol level of .02 or higher … or operating a CMV under the influence of illegal drugs.)
How to know where you stand as a motor carrier?
Now, the next question is how can you as a motor carrier find out how you’re doing in the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC. The FMCSA comes up with a BASIC status, which is reflected in percentile form and based on roadside inspection results. To get a look at how you’re doing, you can log into the SMS. If a motor carrier has safety compliance issues in that BASIC, they’ll see a warning symbol. You can also look at the record of your company’s crashes, and if you think any of the records are not accurate, you can use Dataqs to request a review.
(Keep in mind that violations of the regulations that relate to the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC raise the percentile ranking. That means that safety compliance is poor and could mean you’re in for some intervention, like a warning letter or investigation.)
You need to keep certain documentation.
As a motor carrier, you’ve got to hold onto some documentation. Know that safety investigators may request records of verified positive controlled substances test results. They also might want to see documentation of refusal to take a required alcohol/controlled substances test and driver evaluations/referrals. Basically you should keep any documentation that’s required by the FMCSRs. Safety investigators might use that to discern whether there are any safety performance problems.
How can motor carriers improve in the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC?
Now, as a motor carrier you might also wonder about improving in this BASIC. First of all, your drivers need to understand the regulations related to the BASIC – and how they need to follow them. The Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC is based on regulations that are about the implementation of a controlled substance or alcohol testing program (49 CFR Part 382). Being drug and alcohol free while you’re driving is really important for safety, but it’s also, well, the law. As a motor carrier, you need to educate your drivers about the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC. Motor carriers are accountable for the safety performance of the drivers, so your drivers need to understand how compliance affects the carrier’s percentile rank in the BASIC.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that violations related to the controlled substances/Alcohol BASIC can negatively affect your SMS ratings for 24 months. Time and/or having clean inspections can improve the motor carrier’s BASIC percentile ranks. You can also take a look at the “What can motor carriers do to improve” section of the SMS Information Center for answers to common questions.
So, those are some things you should know about the Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC. It’s important to educate your drivers about compliance and keep track of your BASIC rankings. Know what can cause a poor score. Keep the documentation you need and keep everything in order. The Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC is about making the roads safe.
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