Because of a high level of previous failed truck driver drug tests, the federal government this year is doubling the rate of commercial trucker drug testing. The latest results show just how important for public safety this stepped-up testing is.
Late last year the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the agency overseeing the nation’s commercial trucking industry, announced it will increase the 2020 rate of mandated random drug testing of big rig drivers from 25% to 50%. That jump represents about another 2 million truck driver drug tests.
There is good reason for this drastic action. Per federal rules, the drug testing rate must double when positive truck driver drug-test rates hit at least 1% for a year. That occurred in 2018, requiring this year’s increase in illegal substance testing.
The FMCSA just this month released a report of the most common illegal drugs found in truck driver tests so far in 2020.
Through May, there were 21,156 failed truck driver substance abuse tests, with 80% uncovering illegal drugs. Driving with alcohol in their systems accounted for the remaining 20% of positive substance abuse tests.
Top Illicit Drugs Abused by Truck Drivers
According to the federal government’s report, the top illegal drugs found in truck drivers were, in order:
The first-ever Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse for commercial truck drivers went live at the beginning of this year. This is a database of failed truck driver substance abuse tests. Federal rules now require that companies looking to hire a truck driver must first access this clearinghouse.
So those applying for a commercial truck driver job for the very first time, or those wanting to switch companies, must register if they want to be considered for employment.
This report on failed truck driver substance abuse tests was culled from Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse data. In February it was reported that 90% of truckers had yet to register for the Federal Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse. These new test results did not include an update on how many truckers are now registered, so it’s very possible that many more truck drivers abusing illegal substances have not have been caught yet.
On top of that, trucker drug testing rules were relaxed at the beginning of June.
The FMCSA granted a three-month drug testing waiver for truck drivers returning to work following COVID-19 layoffs. Previously, truck drivers returning from layoffs were exempt from new drug testing if they were tested within 30 days. This new waiver extends this test-free period to 90 days, running through September.
The agency explained the waiver is a way for trucking companies to save money by reducing the costs of administering tests.
What Truck Drivers Must be Drug Tested?
Per federal rules those with a commercial driver’s license are subject to random drug testing under these conditions:
· Their rig weighs at least 26,000 pounds
· They are hauling hazardous materials
· They are driving vehicles carrying at least 16 passengers
Any truck driver involved in a fatal accident must also be drug-tested within 24 hours.
When a truck fails a drug test, he or she must complete a substance abuse education and treatment program that meets federal guidelines.
While shared failed drug test results may keep some careless truck drivers off the road, the high number of truck drivers found to be abusing drugs remains a dangerous threat to other drivers.
If you lost a loved one in a crash with a commercial truck, speak with a truck accident lawyer about how to hold all negligent parties responsible 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 Articles June 30, 2020