DOT is the abbreviation for Department of Transportation. The DOT regulates or oversees Transportation Safety on the roads, air and water. There are several different modalities or divisions of the DOT that they regulate. They are as follows:
FTA: Federal Transit Administration
FMCSA: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
FAA: Federal Aviation Administration
FRA: Federal Railroad Administration
PHMSA: Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
USCG: United States Coast Guard
For the purposes of this article we will focus on the FMCSA.
FMCSA regulates the safety of our roads. The roads you and I drive on. They regulate the 18 wheelers you see on the highway that transport all of goods to our grocery stores, retail, automobiles and more. They make commerce happen. Those carriers, are called Motor Carriers, and require an MC #, and a DOT #. You often see the numbers on the side of semi’s as you are driving along.
The FMCSA publishes Safety Ratings for these companies, as their safety impacts you and me as we share the road.
There are over 300K motor carriers across the county, from the single owner operator to the large fleets like Walmart, Amazon, Swift and others. However, there are hundreds of thousands of individual motor carriers, or what we call owner/operators. All the motor carriers and their drivers are required to perform Drug and Alcohol Testing. All the testing should be done randomly, at various time of the day, week, month and year.
DOT Consortium for Fleets
Motor Carriers with more than 49 drivers often have their own random drug testing pool, or consortium. That means they randomly pool their own drivers at the minimum requirement of 50% drug and 10% alcohol (as of 2020). They have what is called a DER or Designated Employer Representative, or a DAPM or Drug and Alcohol Program Manager that manages the program. The program manager will use a scientific method approved by the DOT to pull drivers for their random program. The DER or DAPM then notifies and sends each driver as selected to perform the random drug testing.
But what happens when the motor carrier has less than 49 drivers?
DOT Consortium for Owner Operators
Motor Carriers with less than 49 drivers are often part of a Drug and Alcohol Testing Random Pool or “Consortium”. Many of these Motor Carriers do not have the staff to have their own DER or DAPM and hire a Third Party Administrator or TPA to run their program for them. The TPA will include their drivers in a larger pool of other drivers that are part of other Motor Carriers forming a large pool of drivers. Owner Operators are required to be part of a random drug testing pool as you cannot have a random pool of one. When an Owner Operator joins a consortium or C/TPA Pool, then the C/TPA becomes their DER or DAPM and notifies the owner operator when they have been selected for a random drug test or a drug test and alcohol test and must proceed to a testing center.
Sarah Hope is the CEO of Vertical Identity. Vertical Identity is a C/TPA for hundreds of motor carriers across the country, providing background checks, motor vehicle driving records, and drug and alcohol testing services.