Are Truck Drivers Tested for Illegal Drug Use?

The federal government reports that over the last dozen years the number of commercial transportation workers who failed drugged tests jumped 77 percent.  This group includes commercial truck drivers.  Perhaps linked, the number of people killed in truck accidents has risen significantly over the last few years as well.

What’s being done to keep truck drivers under the influence of drugs off the road?

Over-the-road truckers are subject to federally mandated drug testing. Trucking companies hiring a new truck driver must test the driver for drugs and cannot hire him or her if the test returns positive for drug use.

Truckers in Fatal Accidents and Using Drugs

Truck drivers involved in fatal accidents also must undergo drug testing.  Other accidents in which trucking companies must test their drivers include:

·         Accidents that result in physical injuries that require the victim to be taken for treatment and the truck driver was issued a ticket

·         Accidents in which truckers are ticketed and a motor vehicle is disabled and must be towed away for repair

In addition to these accident scenarios, trucking companies must also perform random drug testing on their drivers.  When an employer suspects a truck driver is under the influence of drugs, that trucker is supposed to be tested.  And any truck driver who failed a drug test or refused to be tested must pass a drug test after completing other procedures known as the “return-to-duty” process.

The growing abuse of prescription painkillers is largely being blamed for the dramatic spike in commercial transportation workers failing drug tests. In response, the U.S. Department of Transportation implemented new drug testing rules for truck drivers.  Proposed last year, they became effective January 1, 2018.

Truck Drivers Abusing Prescription Painkillers

The new rules mandate testing for prescription painkillers, specifically hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone.  These are four types of opioids commonly abused today.  This is the first time the federal rules for trucker drug testing were updated since 2010.

Current drug testing rules for commercial truck drivers call for urine samples only.  But many – including some of the nation’s largest carriers – are calling for hair testing.  Proponents argue that hair testing is more accurate.  Many drugs that normally disappear from urine samples in a few days may last months in hair.

When Brazil instituted hair drug testing for its truck drivers, deaths and serious injuries from traffic accidents reportedly dropped nearly 40 percent in one year.

But while there are federal laws requiring employers to drug test their drivers under certain conditions, that doesn’t mean that they always do.  There’s a growing shortage of truck drivers, putting more pressure on companies to keep their trucks on the road, even if it may mean employing someone who represents serious dangers to others.

If you had a family member killed or you were seriously injured in a crash with a commercial truck, speak with a truck accident attorney who has experience in dealing with uncooperative trucking companies and truck drivers.

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 March 6, 2018