Author: Dr. David Thorpe, President WorkRite Safety
Effective January 1, 2020, the FMCSA has doubled its requirement for random drug testing rate for commercial motor vehicle drivers. The percentages go up from 25% to 50% for drug testing which reverses the reduction that was implemented in January of 2016 that occurred due to a declining positive rate that was less than 1% in 2013 and 2014. Due to increasing number of positive tests that exceeded 1% however, the rate was returned to the 50% level for random testing as it existed from 1995 through 2015. The minimum annual percentage rate for alcohol testing will remain at 10%
HOW WILL THIS AFFECT THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY?
The greatest impact will be cost. The FMCSA estimates there are 4.2 million active interstate and intrastate drivers that are affected. That will mean that the number of drivers tested will go from 1.05 million at the previous rate of 25% to approximately 2.1 million in calendar year 2020. The FMCSA estimates it will cost the trucking industry approximately $50 million to $70 million to conduct the additional testing.
This financial hit to the industry was not anticipated by those worker in trucking and transportation, as the drug testing data was collected in the first quarter of 2019, and until now there has been no indication from the FMCSA about the increase in positive tests that led to the random testing rate change.
In addition to cost, many expect that this will likely have a small productivity impact as well, because the process of taking the driver off the road and directing them to a testing site takes up significant time that would normally be time that a driver would be working.
OTHER CONCERNS IN TRUCKING RELATING TO DRUG USE DATA
There is a growing concern within the trucking industry about drivers using prohibited substances. In fact, this concern relates to their thoughts that the increase in drug use identified in the FMCSA statistics is actually lower than what actually exists. Last summer the Trucking Alliance released the results of a study comparing hair=testing results to the FMVSA’s mandated urine testing results, which indicated that thousands of habitual drug users are skirting a system designed to prohibit drug use in transportation. The concern expressed by the Trucking Alliance was that urine drug testing missed 9 out of 10 illicit drug users in pre-employment testing.
THE CLEARINGHOUSE TAKES EFFECT ON JANUARY 6, 2020
Interestingly, the new FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing Clearinghouse also takes effect in January 2020. This will require drivers and motor carriers to register for the Clearinghouse and violations to the drug and alcohol testing policies be tracked and followed by motor carriers, C/TPA’s, SAP’s and more. The overall purpose is to help eliminate and better manage drivers that have violations in the drug and alcohol testing policy from falling through the cracks as they move from company to company.