Motion picture group seeks exemption from Clearinghouse full query

March 5, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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Saying that it would “significantly slow down our members’ ability to hire at the speed needed,” Motion Picture Compliance Solutions requested an exemption from FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse pre-employment full query.

The motion picture group’s exemption request is scheduled to publish in the Federal Register on Friday, March 6.

Specifically, MPCS seeks an exemption from the requirement that an employer can’t employ a driver who is subject to drug and alcohol testing before conducting a full query of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. Instead, the group asks for its members to be allowed to conduct a limited query of the Clearinghouse before hiring a driver for a project.

“If the limited query indicates that information about the driver exists in the Clearinghouse, the driver would not be permitted to perform safety-sensitive functions unless and until a full query subsequently shows that the driver is not prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle,” the notice stated.

According to the group, the motion picture industry employs a pool of 12,000 drivers who work for multiple employers.

MPCS said the current requirement would increase the number of production days and add millions of dollars of increased production costs to operate in the United States.

“Furthermore, the unique driver employment model of the theatrical, commercial or television motion picture production industry, and safety protocols it already has in place, create an environment that significantly reduces the likelihood that a full pre-employment query would yield any information not already known by MPCS and/or its member companies, rending a full query a redundant and unnecessarily burdensome requirement,” the group wrote in its request to FMCSA.

Nature of motion picture industry

MPCS contends that the motion picture production transportation industry is significantly different than the general trucking industry.

“The main purpose of drivers in the entertainment industry is to transport crew members and filming equipment to filming locations, driving an average of 1-2 hours each workday,” the group wrote.

In addition, MPCS said the “fluid” and “volatile” nature of the industry results in a “near constant need for safe, experienced drivers and an efficient hiring process.” Productions frequently hire and dismiss drivers daily, the group said.

Current safety protocols

Another one of the group’s arguments against being required to conduct a full query is that it already has standards in place to maintain safety.

MPCS said it established in 2009 a DOT Violation Database, which consists of all documents pertaining to a driver’s DOT violations.

The group’s member companies access the driver’s record in the database to determine if he or she is eligible to operate a commercial motor vehicle based on their drug and alcohol history.

“The database instantly identifies drivers who are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions based on DOT drug and alcohol program violations,” the group wrote. “The result has been an outstanding safety record and lower than average violation rates.”

Based on statistics from 2018, MPCS said the motion picture industry drivers’ positive drug test rate was 0.63% compared to the national rate of 0.88%.

Comments

Once the exemption request is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 30 days to comment.

Comments can be made at the Regulations.gov website by entering docket number FMCSA-2020-0101.

Editor’s note: Regulations.gov has rolled out a beta testing site that may be causing users some trouble locating the docket to comment on. The links provided above go to the legacy site, not the beta testing site. When searching for FMCSA-2020-0101 on the beta site you will have to sort the results by clicking on the “open for comment option” highlighted in the image below. OOIDA members needing assistance filing comments are welcome to call the Business Services Department at 816-229-5791.

Related story:
Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse nets nearly 8,000 positives.

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.