When truck drivers are operating their rigs, they have a lot of responsibility. The position can be stressful, and the hours long. If they choose to drive under the influence of drugs, this choice endangers everyone else on the road. Others deserve to know that when they get behind the wheel, the truck drivers around them are able to operate their vehicles in a safe, responsible way. Yet, more and more truck drivers are failing drug tests. While this should keep them off the road, it isn’t a guarantee.
According to this recent article by the International Business Times , a whopping 72,000 truck drivers have failed drug tests in the past year. Coupled with a dire need for drivers, this makes for a deeply troubling situation. If trucking companies require more truckers, they may choose to hire drivers without performing proper drug tests. Worst of all, they could perform a test and ignore the results or fail to execute random drug testing.
It’s also worth noting that 56% of truck driver drug testing violations are due to marijuana usage. While marijuana is legal in many states for recreational and medicinal purposes, it is still illegal under DOT regulations. Employers should never remove the marijuana panel from their drug testing program for individuals in safety-sensitive positions e.g. operating vehicles on the road. Truck drivers, or any driver of a vehicle, driving under the influence of marijuana may react too slowly or make errors, jeopardizing other drivers in the process. Trucking companies, and any other company with drivers on the road, should not remove the marijuana panel from their drug test. They are putting themselves and people on the roads at risk.
Ultimately, this obligation lies in the hands of employers. If a truck driver injures someone else on the road and it turns out that they failed a drug test in the past, the employer could be found guilty of negligent retention. This also applies to any business that has drivers on the road. While truck accidents are typically more destructive, non-DOT drivers operating vans could also cause bodily harm to third parties if an accident were to occur. It could be determined that the employer is at fault if they knew the driver was not able to use a vehicle safely. For this reason, proper and frequent drug tests should always be performed. If drivers fail these tests, employers need to be keep them off the roads.
James P. Randisi, President of Randisi & Associates, Inc., has since 1999 been helping employers protect their clients, workforce and reputation through implementation of employment screening and drug testing programs. This post does not constitute legal advice. Randisi & Associates, Inc. is not a law firm. Always contact competent employment legal counsel. Mr. Randisi can be contacted by phone at 410.494.0232 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or the website at randisiandassociates.com