Drug and alcohol violations by truck drivers were up 40% in 2020, according to an analysis of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) records by the medical group American Substance Abuse Professionals Inc. (ASAP).
That number included a 20% increase in pre-employment violations and a 27% increase in random testing violations compared to last year, the Maryland-based group said Thursday.
ASAP also tracked an increase in the rate of drivers who refuse to take the tests at all, which rose by 60% for pre-employment and 44% for random. For enforcement purposes, a refusal to test has the same consequences of failing a drug test: the employee is immediately removed from safety-sensitive duty and then must go through a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) return-to-duty process, ASAP said.
In addition, drivers’ employers are also required to take action following failed tests, by supplying each affected employee with a list of local, qualified substance abuse professionals (SAPs). ASAP says its members’ success rate at returning employees back to work drug-free is 86%.
The tumultuous events of 2020 added several wrinkles to the data which added more variations than a typical year. The first quarter of the year saw a significant increase as the FMCSA Clearinghouse kicked off in January, the second quarter saw a significant slump as random testing dropped because of disruptions in the drug and alcohol testing chain during the coronavirus pandemic, and then the year ended with a steady increase.
DOT says the FMCSA clearinghouse is a secure online database that allows FMCSA, employers of CDL drivers, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and law enforcement officials to identify – in real time – CDL drivers who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing program requirements, and thereby improve safety on the nation’s roads.
According to ASAP, the purpose of the testing program is to maintain highway safety and support the performance of national transportation logistics. The program also pays off for employers, because a drug-free workplace increases productivity and decreases liability, the group said.