Young & McCarthy LLP

Trucking Alliance vows to crack down on drug testing drivers

Are trucking companies doing enough to ensure that drivers are drug-free before handing them a set of keys? Sadly, not all of them. Several reports have shown that trucking companies aren’t doing their part to properly screen applicants. As a result, impaired truckers have caused fatal accidents and continue to put others on the road at risk.

What are the companies doing wrong? Is there a way to fix the lack of standardization and enforcement surrounding drug screenings?

The epidemic of impaired truck drivers

In April, an investigation carried out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration uncovered the extent of drug testing violations in the trucking industry. The study shows that many companies forgo pre-employment drug screenings. Others were screening their applicants but permitted drivers who tested positive to hit the roads.

Unfortunately, the problems don’t end with the enforcement of drug screenings. Numerous critics take issue with the testing approaches used within the industry when studies have shown that some methods are more reliable than others. In fact, a Trucking Alliance study found that 90 percent of subjects who passed a urinalysis failed a hair follicle test.

How drivers are screened matters

Not all drug tests are created equal. Many trucking companies use urine tests to screen its applicants. However, these tests can only go so far. Substances such as amphetamines, opiates, cocaine and even methadone can go undetected in as little as two days after use. In addition, users can use fake urine samples and utilize on other tactics to mask the detection of substances.

Hair follicle tests are much more reliable as they can detect substance use as far back as 90 days. While they come with a higher price tag than urine tests, hair follicle tests are one of the most effective ways to ensure that applicants are sober, yet they are rarely used.

Congress considers implementing stricter safety regulations

The Alliance is currently asking Congress members to pass laws to standardize drug testing practices throughout the trucking industry. In addition, they aim to close in on the lack of random drug testing enforcement, which many truckers avoid by taking advantage of systemic loopholes. Under the proposal, drivers would need to prove that they have been sober for 30 days or more prior to employment through mandated hair follicle tests.

Truckers should be held to the same standard as other drivers, if not higher. If Congress takes up the Alliance’s proposal, fewer impaired truckers will have the opportunity to cause what could be a fatal accident and save countless lives every year.

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