Drug-testing regulation for trucking applicants has been a hotly debated issue for some time, making updates in legislation slow-moving as a result. Moving forward, however, two pending regulations aim to make strides in addressing the matter:
- Employers regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) must begin searching the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse during pre-employment driver screenings.
Set to be rolled out by the FMCSA in early 2020, the Clearinghouse will be an electronic database that holds data on drug and alcohol violations of commercial drivers. It will contain violations that occurred on or after the day that Clearinghouse goes live, which is currently set to be Jan. 4, 2020.
- A proposed transportation bill would permit trucking companies to use hair follicle testing for pre-employment drug screenings.
Currently, prospective drivers provide urine samples, which are able to detect the presence of drugs that were used within a few days to a few weeks of the test. As of now, urine testing is the only federally approved way to test truck drivers for drug use. Hair follicles, on the other hand, have a detection period of up to three months. An overarching goal of this regulation would be to screen out recreational drug users before employment.
A major reason for the delayed approval of hair-follicle testing is the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DOH) failure to issue guidelines for hair testing, which was supposed to be done by December 2016 under the FAST Act Highway Bill of 2015. The Opioid Response Act of 2018, signed in October, ordered the DHS to provide Congress with a report that explains the delay and provides an update on the progress of these guidelines. As of now, no update has been released to the public.
While it will be interesting to see how new drug-testing regulations unfold, it may still be months or longer before these changes take place. In the meantime, it will be up to trucking companies to hire, train, and monitor their employees for safe driving and drug use.
Michael Leizerman is a truck accident attorney specializing in catastrophic multi-axle collisions. He understands all facets of truck accident litigation; including federal regulations, drug and alcohol testing and hours of service requirements. He has authored a treatise entitled Litigating Truck Accident Cases and often educates other attorneys on trucking laws and regulations. You can learn more about Leizerman & Young by visiting their website, www.truckaccidents.com.