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More Drug Testing for Truck Drivers in 2020

Dangerous Brakes

Based on the number of truck drivers who failed drug tests last year, the federal government is increasing the number of mandated drug tests for truckers this year.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced late December 2019 that it is doubling the rate of random drug tests for commercial truck driver beginning this year.  As of January 1, 2020, the minimum rate of random truck driver drug testing jumped from the previous 25% to 50%.

The decision to dramatically raise the rate of testing for truckers under the influence of illegal drugs was mandated by federal regulations.  Per a FMCSA rule passed nearly 20 years ago, if in any year the rate of positive truck driver drug tests is 1% or higher, the rate of drug testing for truckers must jump to 50%.

Higher Rate of Failed Truck Driver Drug Tests

The FMCSA found a 1% rate for failed truck driver drug tests for 2018 (most recent year for final results) and therefore instituted the higher drug testing rate for this year.

This year’s drug-testing rate is a return to what was normally done.  A commercial truck driver testing program that began in 1995 had the random testing rate at 50%.  That was the norm until 2015 when it was knocked down to 25%.

While the recent spike in positive drug tests by truck drivers is high, it could actually have been much higher.  Current federal rules call for urine testing only. Last year the Trucking Alliance, a truck safety group, testified before Congress about drug testing.  The group noted that urinalysis may miss up to 90% of illegal drug use by truckers.

It called for hair-based drug testing for truck drivers, which the group argued is more reliable and a greater protection to public safety.

Another tool introduced this year may also help catch drug-addicted trucker drivers and reduce the fatal truck crashes they cause.

Regulators began working on the Federal Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse in 2016.  It’s a database of truck driver alcohol or drug use.  It became active this year.  It includes truckers who failed previous drug or alcohol tests, as well as those who refused to take them.

Companies can now access the database when hiring new truck drivers.  Retention of truck drivers while also meeting the demands for additional new truckers is a chief concern for today’s trucking industry.

Lack of New Truck Driver Training

Regarding new truck drivers, the news is not as good in terms of public safety.

Federal minimum training requirements for entry-level truck drivers that were supposed to go into effect in February were pushed back last November to February 2022. Adopted in 2016, the new requirements for those obtaining a commercial drivers’ license were designed to reduce deaths in truck crashes, according to the FMCSA.

If you were seriously injured and had a family member die in a crash with a tractor-trailer, a dangerously inexperienced truck driver or a trucker under the influence of drugs may have been behind the wheel.  Speak with a truck accident lawyer about pursuing just compensation for your loss.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog January 27, 2020