A new study shows that the U.S. workforce, in general, is testing positive for illegal drugs at a significant rate. This is also true for a special section of the workforce, designated by the federal government as “safety-sensitive workers,” such as commercial truck drivers.
A medical testing lab has been publishing a report of drug testing results of the nation’s workforce for 30 years. It’s most recent report, released in early May 2018, offers proof of unsafe behavior in the country’s workplace and on the country’s roads.
The testing lab included 10 million workplace drug tests in its latest report. It found that in 2017, 4.2 percent of the nation’s tested workforce came back positive for illegal drugs. That’s the same rate as the year before but still much higher than the 3.5 percent rate reported in 2012. That year’s rate is the low-water mark for the last 30 years. Failed drug tests have been on the rise ever since.
In 1991, the federal government mandated drug and alcohol testing for certain workers in what are categorized as “safety-sensitive” industries – those that require a high level of public trust to ensure other people’s safety. These workers include bus drivers, airplane pilots and commercial truck drivers.
In this 2017 report, positive drug tests for truckers and other transportation workers jumped for a number of illegal drugs. The data also show a shift in illegal drug use by transportation workers that mirrors the nation’s workforce as a whole.
Truck Driver Cocaine Use
The number of failed cocaine drug tests for truck drivers and other federally mandated safety-sensitive workers in 2017 rose 11 percent over 2016. It also marked the third straight year that positive drug tests for cocaine use increased in the transportation segment.
Truckers and other transportation workers had an 8 percent increase for positive marijuana testing in 2017. That doubled the 4 percent rise in failed marijuana tests for the general U.S. workforce.
In response to the nation’s growing opioid abuse crisis, the federal government mandated drug testing for truckers and other transportation workers for four prescription opioids: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone. The testing went into effect at the start of 2018 and therefore this report did not include data for opioid testing and truck drivers, bus drivers and airplane pilots.
Mandatory Drug Testing for Truck Drivers
So how and why are commercial truck drivers tested for illegal drug use? By federal law, truckers must be tested for drug and alcohol use:
· When they are involved in a fatal truck accident
· When there is reasonable suspicion of on-the-job alcohol or illegal drug use
· On an unannounced, random basis
· Prior to employment
Per federal rules, commercial truck driver drug testing involves urine samples only. However, many truck safety experts are calling for testing that also includes samples of hair, saying that hair testing is more accurate, especially for illegal drugs and prescription opioids.
Truck drivers under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs are ticking time bombs. It’s the responsibility of truckers to be clean and sober behind the wheel and the responsibility of trucking companies to take drivers off the road they suspect or know are not.
If you had a loved one killed or you suffered critical injuries in a crash with a commercial truck, contact a truck accident attorney to pursue just compensation on your behalf from those responsible.
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Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Articles May 30, 2018