Truck Driver Drug Testing Remains High Priority for FMCSA

At Fried Goldberg, our team of attorneys has worked hard on cases involving horrific crashes caused by truck drivers who were drunk or high on drugs. We have been interviewed in depth about the topic by the media. Cases involving inebriated truck drivers are personal for us. The pain these reckless drivers cause innocent Georgia families like yours are often some of the most heart-wrenching we see.

We’re glad to hear that the federal government will continue its random drug and alcohol testing of truck drivers at its same high rate as last year. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has said that random drug test sampling for 2015 will continue to be at a 50 percent minimum.

This means that employers will have to conduct half as many random drugs tests as they have drivers. For example, if a company has 100 truck drivers, it will have to conduct at least 50 random drug tests each year. Tests results are then reported to the FMCSA. The 50 percent test threshold is a high minimum bar for the government to set. Other branches of the Department of Transportation require only a 10 or 25 percent minimum. Take a look:

DOT Branch2015 Random Drug Testing Rate2015 Random Alcohol Testing Rate
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration50 percent10 percent
Federal Aviation Commission25 percent10 percent
Federal Transit Authority25 percent10 percent
Federal Railroad Administration25 percent10 percent
Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration25 percentN/A
United States Coast Guard25 percentN/A

Simply put: A 50 percent minimum is going to keep Georgia roads safer for our families and yours.

Behind the Testing

We also realize that by deciding to test this many drivers, the government is acknowledging the severity and prevalence of truck driving under the influence.

In a statement, the FMCSA said there have been improvements in testing and rooting out inebriated drivers. The FMCSA noted that positive random drug testing has decreased for a second year in a row. This is great news, but more needs to be done – and the FMCSA knows it.

The agency does not make its decisions based solely on the number of positive tests it gets back. The FMCSA determines its testing rate based on surveys and deep looks inside test result data. The FMCSA said its decision to keep the 50 percent testing rate was made because data from a the most recent drugs and alcohol test survey revealed the following, troublesome numbers:

  • Positive test rates following an initial positive result increased by 4.1 percent from 2011 to 2012.
  • Positive test results in cases of reasonable suspicion continue to grow markedly: from 5.6 percent in 2010; then to 15.7 percent in 2011; followed by a whopping 37.2 percent in 2012. This is a five-fold increase in just three years.
  • The rate of total positive drug results reported to the Department of Transportation from certified, independent labs increased from 95,427 positives in 2011 to 97,332 in 2012.
  • Serious drug use and alcohol testing violations were found in 24 percent of compliance investigations.
  • In 2014, a two-week “Strike Force” focused on identifying drivers who tested positive resulted in 205 enforcement cases against drivers and 138 cases against carriers for violations related to drivers with positive test results operating a commercial motor vehicle.

How Testing Works

The FMCSA relies on data from motor carriers. This helps shed light on how companies that put truck drivers on the road are keeping inebriated drivers from getting behind the wheel. Companies that must submit test results are selected at random and are notified about the testing via email. Once statistics are gathered, the FMCSA analyzes the data and decides how to move forward.

Drinking and Drug Use in Truck Driving

The link between truck drivers and amphetamine use has long been talked about.

A global study conducted in 2013, however, shed light on how many drivers use substances of all kinds. The study, done by researchers in Brazil and published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Health Medicine, focused on countries that rely on long haul trucking, like the U.S., Brazil and Australia. It found that alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and amphetamine use were the most common.

Drivers used drugs to stay awake, get through a shift or to self-medicate in response to the pressures from work or their personal lives. Pay rate and poor working conditions were also linked to more drug and alcohol use, the study showed.

Worldwide the data showed disturbing numbers. Some countries, like Thailand and Brazil, had rates of drugs and alcohol use that climbed well over 50 percent, according to the study.

Drug use was also more common in young, inexperienced drivers who were trying to make more money and had to drive longer routes heavy with nighttime driving. Drug and alcohol use was also higher in smaller or medium-sized companies that have previously had accidents.

In response to the study, the FMCSA told Reuters:

“FMSCA has strict requirements on pre-employment screening and random and post-accident drug and alcohol testing. …We acknowledge the pressure and daily demands on commercial motor vehicle drivers, but also believe the vast majority of truck drivers are dedicated professionals who would never jeopardize their careers, their safety and the safety of other travelers by using substances or medications that would adversely impact their ability to operate safely on the nation’s highways.”

How We Can Help

The sad reality is that a number of truck drivers will always use drugs or alcohol while driving. We can help reduce this number, but it will likely never be zero. Impaired truck drivers will always be a potentially deadly hazard. This is why the outstanding team of attorneys at Fried Goldberg is here to fight for families in Georgia and beyond.

We literally wrote the book on truck accident law. No one is better prepared to take on your case with the same mix of experience, compassion and tenacity that secures our clients the highest possible settlements allowable by law.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, call us today at 877-591-1801 or by email on the link at this page. Our consultation is always free, and we’re always waiting to build you an unbeatable case.

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