Drug and Alcohol Testing of Truck Drivers Can Save Lives

July 5, 2017 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Drug and Alcohol Testing of Truck Drivers Can Save Lives

Every day, the transportation industry puts thousands of drivers behind the wheels large trucks. While most of these truck drivers are professionals who remain dedicated to safety protocols, the fact remains that drug and alcohol use is responsible for a large number of truck crashes every year. Large trucks cause more damage in a collision than do smaller passenger vehicles. This makes drug and alcohol use among truck drivers an especially dangerous safety hazard.

After a truck accident, you need experienced legal representation to ensure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries. Trust the experienced attorneys at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA to handle your personal injury claim quickly, professionally, and fairly. Our lawyers have decades of experience in protecting the rights of accident victims in and around Clearwater, Florida. Their dedicated and professional service will protect your legal rights during the difficult period of recovery.

Large Truck and Bus Crash Statistics

Every year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration releases a report of truck accident statistics. The most recent Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts report (with data from 2015) demonstrates some concerning trends in large truck accidents in the United States.

  • Despite a small decrease in the overall percentage of truck drivers involved in fatal accidents who were intoxicated, the raw number of intoxicated truck drivers involved in fatal accidents increased between 2014 and 2015.
  • The number of fatal accidents involving large trucks or buses increased by five percent between 2014 and 2015.
  • The number of injury crashes involving large trucks (or buses) steadily decreased between 2005 and 2009. This was followed by a sixty-two percent increase in injury accidents between 2009 and 2015.
  • Between 2005 and 2015, school buses accounted for forty-one percent of all buses involved in fatal crashes.
  • Vehicle miles traveled by large trucks increased slightly between 2014 and 2015. (Increases in miles traveled have been consistently correlated with increases in traffic accidents.)
  • Current Drug and Alcohol Testing Procedures
Federal regulations set guidelines which require drug and alcohol testing of employees who drive commercial trucks and buses that require a commercial driver's license. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets these regulations.
  • Generally, all commercial drivers' license holders who operate commercial vehicles on public roads in the United States are performing “safety-sensitive functions”, and are therefore subject to Department of Transportation (DOT) drug and alcohol testing. This includes full time, part time, intermittent, backup and international drivers.
  • DOT guidelines require laboratory testing for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and methamphetamines, and PCP. The guidelines also set drug cutoff concentrations. DOT alcohol testing identifies blood alcohol concentrations of .02 and above.
  • The DOT guidelines require drug testing before employment, after serious accidents, randomly throughout the year, and upon reasonable suspicion of impairment. Drivers who fail a test are later subject to drug testing upon their return to work, as well as follow-up testing for a minimum of twelve months (up to a maximum of five years).

Possible Solutions to Improve Drug Testing Regulations

By improving drug testing requirements and the system of reporting violations, transportation companies will be better able to identify problem drivers. An improved system will also increase personal accountability among truck drivers to engage in safe driving habits. One solution has been proposed by a coalition of transportation carriers. Some of the largest and most influential companies in the industry have joined together in a request to the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow them to use hair follicle testing in lieu of the urine testing required under federal regulations.

Hair follicle testing is generally agreed to be a more accurate method of detecting prior drug use because drugs stay in the hair follicle longer than in urine. These carriers, therefore, use hair follicle testing as part of their employee drug testing policies but must provide duplicate urine tests to comply with DOT regulations. The proposed change to allow hair follicle testing would both save the cost of the duplicate test and provide a more accurate report on the truck driver's prior drug use.

Another possible solution is the creation of a centralized database to maintain the records of any holder of a commercial driver's license. This would alert employers to driving violations and crimes (such as DUI) committed by potential or current employees. It would also foster a sense of personal responsibility in all truck drivers, who would know that their driving and criminal records were easily accessible to any employer in the industry.

Employer Protocols for Drug and Alcohol Testing of Employees Who Drive Commercial Vehicles

In addition to the federal regulations, employers can also implement their own drug and alcohol testing policies. Transportation companies which employ commercial drivers are wise to do so for many reasons. First, employers of impaired truck drivers can be legally responsible (“liable”) for the damage caused by that driver in an accident. Intoxicated drivers are more likely to impose liability upon their employers. Second, drug and alcohol testing can be an effective risk management strategy, by which the employer accesses lower insurance premiums. It also reduces the risk that the employer will suffer property damage and other unnecessary expenses. And third, preventing impaired driving saves lives.

While the costs of property damage can be easily measured, the cost of human life cannot. It falls to all drivers – and the companies which employ them – to mitigate the cost of human life by making the roads as safe as possible. The sad fact is that federal guidelines alone cannot prevent all fatal truck accidents.

Call a Clearwater Truck Accident Attorney for Help Today

The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA protects residents and visitors of Clearwater to ensure that truck accident victims are fairly compensated for their personal injury claims. Call (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Our experienced, aggressive attorneys have decades of experience in protecting the rights of truck accident victims across southern Florida.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33756 727-451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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