FMCSA Begins Annual Motor Carriers’ Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey

urine specimen jarAlcohol and drugs make for a deadly combination—especially when behind the wheel. Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 51 minutes.

In 2009, 18 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one drug. This included illegal, prescription and/or over-the-counter drugs. That same year close to 4,000 fatally injured drivers tested positive for drug involvement.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is doing its part to keep those numbers low—particularly when it involves commercial vehicles. In an effort to do this, the FMCSA recently began notifying selected truck and bus companies, requesting that they submit their annual DOT drug and alcohol testing program results to the agency.

This annual survey measures the percentage of drivers with commercial driver’s licenses who test positive for controlled substances or drugs and/or alcohol, as a result of random and nonrandom testing.

Motor carriers that employ CDL drivers are required to implement drug and alcohol testing programs, pursuant to Part 382 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). Currently, the FMCSA requires these carriers to randomly test 10 percent of their CDL drivers for alcohol and 50 percent of their CDL drivers for drugs each year.

Since the early 1990s, the FMCSA and its predecessor agency has defined drug and alcohol testing rules and regulations for employees who drive commercial trucks and buses that require a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Results for FMCSA’s 2012 Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey of approximately 2,000 carriers revealed the following information:

  • Positive test rates following an initial positive result increased by 4.1 percent from 2011 to 2012.
  • Reasonable suspicion positive test rates continued to rise sharply from 5.6 percent in 2010, to 15.7 percent in 2011 and 37.2 percent in 2012, marking a five-fold increase over the 3-year period.
  • The rate of total positive drug test results reported to DOT from independent Health and Human Services-certified laboratories increased from 95,427 positives in 2011 to 97,332 positives in 2012.  FMCSA-regulated industries comprise approximately 80 percent of the reported tests.
  • Serious controlled substance and alcohol testing violations were identified in 24 percent of recent compliance investigations.
  • A two-week 2014 Strike Force focusing on the identification of drivers who tested positive resulted in 205 driver enforcement cases, and 138 enforcement cases against carriers for violations relating to drivers with positive test results operating a commercial motor vehicle.  These include drivers operating passenger carrying vehicles and transporting hazardous materials.

The selected motor carriers for this latest survey must submit their calendar year 2014 results by May 15, 2015.

The truck accident attorneys at EJ Leizerman & Associates applaud the FMCSA’s efforts to continue keeping America’s roadways safe. These surveys help the agency do just that. If you or someone you know have been injured by a commercial truck, call us today to learn how we possibly can help with your case. Consultations are free. You can reach us at 1-800-628-4500.

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