According to a new study, paid for by the trucking industry, there may be over a quarter of a million commercial truck drivers using illegal or illicit drugs.
When are Commercial Truck Drivers Tested for Drug Use?
Per federal rules big rig truckers must be randomly tested for drugs. Truckers subject to these tests include those who haul rigs weighing more than 26,000 pounds. Truck driver drug testing is required under several other conditions, including:
· Pre-employment: truck drivers must have a negative drug test prior to starting a new job
· Following an accident: following any fatal trucking accident, trucker must be tested for drugs and alcohol
· Reasonable suspicion: based on an employer’s observation of signs of truck driver’s drug or alcohol abuse
· Return to duty: following a positive test or a refusal to take a test, truckers must successfully complete a defined process, including a negative test, before allowed back on the road
One common thread running through all these scenarios is the type of drug testing mandated by the federal government. It only requires urine drug testing for commercial over-the-road truckers. A handful of companies do conduct hair tests as well, even if not forced to.
That is a concern for many safety officials and organizations, as they cite the relative ineffectiveness of urine testing versus using hair samples to detect drugs in truck drivers’ systems.
A study released earlier this year establishes the real life dangers of using urine drug testing compared to the more stringent drug testing. The Trucking Alliance, a consortium of trucking industry concerns, funded a study by the University of Central Arkansas (“Drug Testing in the U.S. Trucking Industry: Hair vs. Urine Samples and the Implications for Policy and the Industry”) that examined the validity of the two truck driver drug-screening methods.
Using more than 150,000 pre-employment truck driver drug tests – instances when both urinalysis and hair were used – the researchers found that less than 1% of the truckers failed the urine tests. But 8.5% failed tests using hair samples.
275,000 Truck Drivers Would Fail Drug Tests
Applying this failed test rate to the 3.5 million semi truckers on the road today, the study concluded that about 275,000 truck drivers would fail drug tests if all were subject to hair sampling. This new study validates similar findings the Truck Alliance published last year.
That’s just the latest disturbing news regarding commercial truck drivers and failed drug tests.
Based on a high rate of failed drug tests in 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that this year it is doubling the rate of mandatory random drug tests for truckers.
However, in July the federal government provided trucking companies some flexibility to the new higher rate of drug testing, citing COVID-19 pandemic issues.
Fatigued truckers and truck drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol can unexpectedly lose control of their rigs, claiming multiple innocent victims in an instant.
If you suffered serious injuries or lost a family member in a crash with a commercial truck, turn to a truck crash lawyer to conduct a thorough investigation and pursue just compensation from all 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 Blog August 6, 2020