Using prescription medications and illicit drugs while driving isn’t just a problem that affects drivers of personal vehicles. A growing body of evidence suggests it’s a serious problem among truckers as well. In fact, during a recent presentation to Congress, a representative of the Trucking Alliance stated that “the trucking industry has no greater safety issue, than to aggressively address illegal drug use among commercial truck drivers.”
During the same presentation, the Trucking Alliance also said there’s “compelling evidence that thousands of habitual drug users are skirting a system designed to prohibit drug use in transportation.” That’s frightening.
In an effort to improve safety on America’s roads, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is taking action in the new year. Beginning on January 1, 2020, the agency will increase its annual percentage rate for random drug testing from 25% of the average number of driver positions to 50% of the average number of driver positions.
Currently, the FMCSA estimates that there are approximately 3.2 million commercial truck drivers in America. The FMCSA conducted about 1.05 million random drug tests during 2019. However, that number is expected to increase to 2.1 million random tests in the new year. Of course, improved safety measures also cost more money; the FMCSA reports these new testing measures will cost approximately $70 million, a significant budget increase.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent all truck drivers from practicing unsafe habits. However, these new measures being implemented by the FMCSA will hopefully improve trucker safety while limiting accidents such as head-on collisions and roll overs.
If you’re a truck driver, make sure you’re familiar with these changes. Also, if you suspect you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, don’t hesitate to reach out to your supervisor, a friend or family member. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s important you receive the help you need.
If you’re interested in learning more about the FMCSA’s new testing measures, click here.