The trucking industry makes up for a large percentage of daily life as trucks work to transport goods across the nation. With this in mind, one prevalent problem that has equally plagued the trucking industry is drugs.
The use of drugs can not only cost billions of dollars, but can also lead to accidents while on the roadway, which can then cause the potential for accidents or even deaths to occur. In order to prevent this potential platform, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) works to ensure that random drug testing occurs in order to catch illicit drug users before they get behind the wheel of a heavy vehicle.
Currently, the FMCSA has stated that, going into the 2015 year, the annual minimum random controlled substance testing rates for employees will remain at 50%. The testing methodology not only includes employees in safety sensitive positions, such as drivers of 18-wheelers, but also includes tractor-trailers and school bus drivers.
The agency’s decision to keep testing at 50% was based on a 2012 drug and alcohol survey which showcased the following:
- Positive testing rates indicated that there was a positive test result increase at 4.1% from 2011 – 2012.
- Reasonable suspicion positive test rates rose from 5.6% in 2010 to 15.7% in 2011 and 37.2% in 2012.
- Overall, the rate of total positive drug tests, as reported to the Department of Transportation, showed that there were 95,427 positives in 2011 and 97,332 positives reported in 2012.
- Of recent compliance investigations, 24% were because of controlled substance and alcohol testing violations.
- In 2014 a two-week Strike force was implemented which focused on the identification of drivers who tested positive. This resulted in 205 driver enforcement cases, and 138 enforcement carriers for violations that all related to drivers testing positive whole operating a commercial motor vehicle. Alarmingly, this also included drivers who were carrying hazardous materials.
Although, the results of the FMCSA 2012 Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey, which consisted of approximately 2,000 carriers indicated that positive random drug testing results have decreased for a second year, the need for testing has not lessened. As one can imagine, drug testing for commercial drivers ensures that the roadways are safe and free from major accidents that are caused by drivers driving under the influence.
It should equally be noted that carriers may legally test for the presence of alcohol or controlled substances as part of the driving requirements. Additionally, motor carriers are required by law to test for substance within eight hours after an accident that also caused a fatality. In addition, as per FMCSA law, employees must also test for drugs within 24 hours after a fatal accident has occurred.
This is in addition to the need of an employer to perform a drug test before any new hire joins and is responsible for any safety-sensitive function. As mentioned previously, the current measures of drug testing is not expected to lessen anytime soon. This will not only ensure that compliance will be followed, but will also keep the roadways safe.