A little while back we told you about the upcoming USDOT Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse – a massive database containing the records of drivers which will allow carriers to see if truckers have been flagged for substance abuse. The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is set to go into effect at the start of 2020, and its usage is mandated by Congress. While the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is looking on the horizon, some startling information about drivers has come out in a report from the Trucking Alliance.
The Trucking Alliance Survey
The Trucking Alliance, made up of Companies such as JB Hunt, US Xpress, and others, compiled a survey to see exactly how drug-free the trucking industry was. The Trucking Alliance took a survey of 151,662 applicants. Roughly 94 percent were drug-free, according to hair analysis and urinalysis. 94 percent is a pretty good percentage, until you dig into the numbers. 94 percent of 151,622 people is 142,525 people who passed their drug screening tests. That means 9,097 people in the survey were flagged for drugs. The Trucking Alliance stated that if the numbers are applied to the existing 3.5 million drivers in the trucking industry, the results are that a staggering 300,000 people would fail either hair analysis or urinalysis.
Loopholes in the Screening
As things stand, hair analysis is not allowed to be submitted to the USDOT Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. This means any screening for substance abuse must be provided by urinalysis only. Urinalysis is not as accurate as hair analysis, so there may be more drivers slipping through the pre-hiring screening tests. Urinalysis on its own missed 90 percent of the drug users that were flagged by hair analysis. The major concern is that once the USDOT Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is in full swing, a number of drivers with substance abuse issues will slip through the screening by employers who only test through urinalysis.
Taking Things to the DOT
The Trucking Alliance is working with the ATA to push for legislation requiring hair analysis as part of the hiring policy. The carriers in the Trucking Alliance already require hair analysis, and drivers who fail or refuse such testing are not hired. Since not all carriers require hair testing, the point of the Clearinghouse would be rendered ineffective, and it would undermine the focus on safety within the trucking industry. The Trucking Alliance is currently pushing lawmakers to tighten the screening policies for drivers.