Drug use in the commercial trucking industry is a concerning issue that has garnered increased attention in recent years. With the safety of both drivers and other motorists on the line, it is crucial that truck drivers maintain a clear mind and remain drug-free while operating their vehicles.
However, despite strict regulations and consequences in place, drug use among truck drivers still persists. This raises the question, what measures are taken when truck drivers fail drug tests?
In this article, we will delve into the procedures that are followed when a truck driver fails a drug test, including the legal implications, consequences for the driver, and steps taken by trucking companies to prevent future incidents.
Additionally, we will explore the role of drug testing in the trucking industry and its impact on ensuring safe roads for all. With safety-sensitive functions and safety-sensitive duties being the top priority, it is crucial to understand the measures that are in place to address drug use among truck drivers and the steps being taken to prevent it.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the implementation of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse has successfully removed a significant number of drivers who have been caught using drugs from the roads. However, there is a persistent concern regarding the 146,000 drivers who remain in prohibited driving status after failing their drug tests.
It appears that most of these drivers are not enrolling in the required return-to-duty agency process, as stated by the FMCSA. Instead, they seem to be leaving the profession amidst a driver shortage.
Despite the American Transportation Research Institute's recent research report on driver marijuana test failures, the FMCSA claims that it does not have its own research yet to explain why the majority of drivers who test positive for substances appear to be seeking alternative career paths, possibly for lower wages.
Marijuana is a particularly challenging issue, as truck drivers are strictly prohibited from using it. Even a single instance of marijuana use can lead to a failed drug test. In such cases, drivers must successfully complete a return-to-work program, which involves evaluation by a substance abuse professional, participation in a treatment program, and passing a follow-up drug test.
It is worth noting that the number of drivers testing positive for marijuana use continues to rise. Since the Clearinghouse opened in January 2020, 127,356 drivers have tested positive for marijuana as of the end of August. By August 2022, the number of drivers testing positive for marijuana had reached 88,648.
The FMCSA acknowledges that the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse has effectively identified drivers who are not legally authorized to operate commercial motor vehicles due to drug or alcohol tests violations. Since January 2020, over 207,000 commercial drivers have had at least one violation reported to the Clearinghouse.
However, the FMCSA does not have its own data or research to explain why drivers with Clearinghouse violations have not initiated the available return-to-duty process, nor does it have information on the types of work these individuals pursue after being prohibited from driving commercial motor vehicles.
Anecdotally, the FMCSA has received reports from drivers stating that many motor carriers have zero-tolerance policies and do not consider applicants who are in the return-to-duty process and require follow-up testing.
While the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse has been effective in identifying and removing drivers with drug or alcohol violations, there remains a significant number of drivers who have not begun the return-to-duty process. The reasons behind this and the alternative career paths chosen by these drivers are still not fully understood.
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