Here is one more reason for employers to continue to test for drugs, particularly marijuana, in their employee population. Marijuana, opioids and non-alcoholic drugs are more likely to be found in drivers killed in vehicular crashes than alcohol, according to a new study released Thursday by the Governors Highway Safety Association.
If your firm has employees operating vehicles or machinery, it makes sense to first define their position as a safety-sensitive position. Then, from this point, it is easy to justify the need for drug testing on pre-employment, random and reasonable cause bases.
Employees who injure a third party while in your employ expose your firm to negligence and punitive damage lawsuits. These costs increase exponentially if they are found to be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Some highlights from the study are as follows:
- Drug and alcohol presence, 2016 and 2015, fatally-injured drivers:
- Drugs in drivers: In 2016, 43.6% of the drivers with known drug test results were drug-positive. In 2015, of the drivers with known test results, 43.0% in the annual report file and 43.4% in the final file were drug-positive.
- Alcohol in drivers: Of the drivers with known alcohol test results, 37.9% were alcohol-positive (any alcohol at all) in 2016 compared to 38.0% in the 2015 annual report file and 38.1% in the final file.
- Poly-drug and drug-alcohol: In 2016, 50.5% of the drug-positive drivers were positive for two or more drugs and 40.7% were positive for alcohol. Ten-year changes, 2006 to 2016, fatally-injured drivers Drugs: In 2006, 27.8% of drivers with known drug test results were drug-positive compared to 43.6% in 2016. The number of known drug-positive drivers increased from 3,994 in 2006 to 5,365 in 2016.
- Alcohol: In 2006, 41.0% of all drivers with known test results were alcohol positive compared to 37.9% in 2016. The number of known alcohol-positive drivers decreased from 7,750 in 2006 to 5,473 in 2016.
However, the following qualitative conclusions regarding fatally-injured drivers are fully supported:
- Drug presence probably increased slightly from 2015 to 2016.
- Alcohol presence was about the same in 2016 as in 2015.
- More drivers were drug-positive than alcohol-positive both in 2016 and 2015.
- Many drivers combine more than one drug or combine drugs and alcohol.
- Drug presence increased substantially from 2006 to 2016.
- Alcohol presence decreased somewhat from 2006 to 2016.