8% of Truck Drivers Could Lose Their Job if their Employers Do This To Save Money

Depositphotos 23396112 xl 2015

In the interest of lowering CSA scores and insurance premiums, many trucking companies are making procedural changes. One of which includes switching from the traditional urine drug test to the more accurate and detailed hair follicle test.

A urine drug screen may only return accurate results if a controlled substance was used within the previous 2-3 days. This means that a driver could lay off the marijuana for a couple days, pass a drug test, and then light up again.

Hair follicle tests, however, have a much longer range. These types of drug screens can accurately report any drug use from the previous 90 days.

A truck driver’s sobriety is not only about their own safety, but the safety of everyone on the roadways, on loading docks, and at the terminal.  Studies show that around 8 percent of truck drivers who pass a urine test would fail a hair follicle test if the specimen was given at the same time.

The Omnibus Employee Testing Act of 1991

While the practice of drug testing every employee may be a nuisance at times, the origin of its founding proves its necessity.

The Omnibus Employee Testing Act of 1991 came about after a subway derailment in New York City. The conductor of the subway train was tested at a .21 blood alcohol percentage.

There is no way to know for sure, but it is safe to assume this accident would not have occurred if the driver had been sober. The resulting act requires employees in aviation, trucking, railroads, mass transit, and pipeline industries to submit to drug and alcohol testing.

Safety Directors in the industry are all too familiar with the drug and alcohol testing requirements of the act. Just to review, here is a quick explanation:

Motor Carriers must conduct a drug and alcohol test upon:

  • Pre-employment – commercial motor operators must be tested as part of their medical examination.
  • Reasonable Suspicion – Suspicion of substance abuse, after accidents, or before returning to work following a violation.
  • Random Sampling – motor carriers must test a certain percentage of their workforce by random selection.
  • Post-accident – required for any accident that results in loss of human life or other serious accidents involving bodily injury or significant property damage.

Urine testing is widely used throughout the trucking industry. More trucking companies, however, are leaning toward hair testing due to its accuracy and ability to test a longer window of time. Employers are choosing to take a more rigorous, proactive approach throughout the hiring process in order to decrease the chances of accidents.

In addition to these drug testing requirements, the Act also requires all employees to receive drug and alcohol awareness training. More about that later.

Insurance, CSA, and the Price You Pay

A trucking company’s financial performance can be greatly affected by its truck drivers’ job performances.

The industry is increasingly concerned about eliminating insurance risks. Increasing premiums have hampered many once-thriving companies, even bankrupting some.

Your company’s compliance, safety, and accountability (CSA score) determines your overall safety performance. Insurance companies will take this score into consideration when determining your premiums at renewal.

If your drivers rarely cause accidents, conduct thorough inspections, and are generally high performers, your company will fair better in an evaluation.

Your best plan of action is to only hire/retain drivers your company can rely on. A benefit of hair testing is not only ensuring they aren’t currently using drugs, but they have been sober for a significant amount of time.

Risks can be greatly reduced by requiring truck driver candidates to submit a hair sample for drug screening. Hair tests are much more dependable than urine tests and can show a broader history.

Liabilities and Lawsuits

Let’s look at a worst-case scenario:

You hire a driver, seems like the perfect candidate. This driver nailed the interview, outperformed everyone on the driving test, and passed the drug test.

Everything looks great on paper. But in this perfect interview, the applicant failed to disclose one important thing to the recruiter. The reason for termination at ‘X’ company was operating a CMV under the influence.

Drivers with these types of infractions slip through the cracks sometimes. Any experienced safety director will tell you the same. Not only has the system failed the recruiter with inaccurate reports, your company has failed the public.

It’s not difficult to ‘pass’ a urine drug screen, drug users do it all the time. You spend time and money getting this applicant to your terminal for orientation, only for them to cheat on their drug screen.

So, your new hire who was recently, and may still be, on drugs and is now operating your equipment. Among passenger vehicles, construction workers, and school busses, this driver might still be high.

Every now and then, one slips through the cracks. If that happens, accidents are the responsibility of the employing motor carrier, according to a court of law. Attorneys will search for any point of weakness in your operation.

Risk Mitigation

Proactivity, instead of reactivity, is your best option when it comes to mitigating your risk. If your drivers are consistently exposed to safety training, it is likely they will operate in a more mindful way.

Infinit-I Workforce Solutions is transportation’s #1 safety training program. Our existing content can support your safety culture one training session at a time. With Infinit-I Workforce Solutions in your back pocket, prosecuting attorneys won’t stand a chance.

This learning management system not only creates and encourages safer driving habits for your fleet, but it also proves your company’s compliance with federal regulations. Our 24/7 access allows you to access those training records anytime, anywhere.

Let’s hope you don’t end up in that situation. But if you do, you’ll need to show that you provided proper safety to your entire workforce. Infinit-I Workforce Solutions’ automatic tracking and reporting is all the proof you need.

Our special offer: Complete access to the Infinit-I Workforce Solutions system can be yours, absolutely free, for 30 days.

Even if you are currently using another learning management system, we invite you to run ours alongside it. We love a good competition.

If you aren’t ready to sign up for your 30-days of complimentary access, we would be happy to give you a free demo. Give us 20 minutes, we’ll prove it to you.

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