In a 1986 Executive Order, President Reagan stated that, “Drug use is having serious adverse effects upon a significant proportion of the national work force and results in billions of dollars of lost productivity each year …” The President further proposed to stop drug abuse in the trucking industry by enacting regular drug tests (urinalysis) nationwide. That was expanded to include all holders of CDLs (commercial driver’s licenses). As a result, Federal law and regulations mandate drug and alcohol testing programs for employees operating in “safety-sensitive positions,” which includes school bus drivers as well as taxi, limo, and commercial truck drivers. In 1994 breath-alcohol testing was added to the order. Individual states add their own specific laws and requirements.
Drug abuse creates safety concerns as well as contributes to higher absenteeism, lower productivity, substandard performance, and higher healthcare expenses and workers’ compensation and disability claims. Many traffic fatalities result from driver fatigue. To overcome lost production or to increase driver pay, many commercial drivers still resort to drugs that reduce the natural effects of fatigue. Drugs that overcome problems associated with fatigue encounter other problems that result in risks, liabilities, accidents, and fatalities. Title 49 of the CFR states that in accordance with the FMSCA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) or DOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) requirements all commercial drivers must participate in a random regimen where a percent of drivers are selected each quarter for random drug or alcohol testing.
Who Gets Tested?
Smaller companies are targeted for overview of compliance with the DOT programs because it has been shown they often try to reduce costs to boost overall revenue and company growth by ignoring compliance with DOT and FHA (Federal Highway Administration) commercial driver drug and alcohol testing regulations and procedures, programs, and procedures.
A commercial vehicle is typically defined as having has a gross or combination vehicle weight rating exceeding 26,000 or gross or combination weight in excess of 10,000 pounds.
The FMCSA defines a commercial vehicle as one that
• has a gross or combination vehicle weight rating or gross or combination weight in excess of 10, 000 pounds,
• is intended to transport more than 15 persons and driver (buses, shuttles, etc.), or
• transports (placard-required) hazardous materials.
States typically require DOT compliance for semi-truck and tractor-trailer rigs. They individually mandate compliance with DOT programs overseeing drug and alcohol abuse screening, random testing, discipline, and treatment.
Private transportation limousine drivers systematically submit to drug testing in order to reduce liability and to be put on the company’s insurance.
Taxi drivers in all states and cities typically submit to background and medical checks andfingerprinting as well as drug testing prior to hire. Random drug testing ensuring DOT compliance is more difficult for smaller private cab companies. Some cities like Ocean City, N.J. hope to raise standards of their taxi industry by implementing their medallion policy that enacts random taxi driver drug testing and driver’s permit suspension for those who fail their drug test. The city sets up and pays for each random drug test. However, it complains about the difficulty to enforce drug testing policies and DOT programs on taxi drivers because the cabbies often work other full time day jobs (driving only at night) making it difficult to contact them by phone during city business hours.
Drug Screening Policy
Federal regulations mandate that only one kind of drug screening may be administered to the commercial drivers. Compliance is determined by a “five-panel drug screen on a federal chain of custody form.”
Drugs commercial drivers are commonly tested for include marijuana, amphetamines,opiates, cocaine, and PCPs (phencyclidine). Results that determine the driver is, or has been, under the influence are sent to their employer as well as to a medical review office chosen to determine if the test is accurate and authentically a positive indication of drug substances in the driver’s system.