With the rising positive drug tests among truck drivers are beginning to cause safety concerns. While some employers are not too concerned about their drug policies, the trucking industry is not that laxed on the situation. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires trucking companies to drug all drivers.
According to the data that was released in March from Quest Diagnostics Inc., individuals in the trucking industry in 2021 found an increase of 2.2% in positive drug tests in 2017. For individuals in more safety positions, there has been a 9.5% increase from 2017 to 2021, while post-accident positive tests have increased by 41.9%.
Driver Shortage Caused from Marijuana Testing
According to the American Trucking Association, there has been a national trucking shortage for a while now and it has taken about 80,000 truck driers off the road. From December 2021 to now, government data shows that more than 60,000 truck drivers have received a violation for testing positive for marijuana usage. When you test positive for Marijuana, you are removed from the roadways. So, with truck drivers being removed from the road, this is causing more issues with our everyday growing driver shortage.
In 2020, the Clearinghouse Rule shows all drivers who received a positive drug test in a Federal database. This allows other companies to look up drivers and see who have received positive drug tests before leasing or hiring. These types of violations stay on a driver’s record in the Clearinghouse database for 5 years.
Is Driving Choosing Marijuana Over Driving?
Some believe that several drivers are leaving the trucking industry after failing a drug test for many reasons. One because once the positive drug test is entered into the Clearinghouse, it is on record for five years even if they clear the Return-to-Duty testing process. Another reason why some believe drivers are choosing marijuana over driving is that they agree with the Marijuana state laws and not the Federal Marijuana laws. Some trucking companies will sponsor the RTD testing process, while other companies will not. Instead, they just let the driver go or don’t hire the driver after a positive test.
There have been five full months of Clearinghouse testing data that can be reviewed since January. The FMCSA has released this report showing positive drug and alcohol results that have been reported to the database.
According to the FMCSA’s numbers, Marijuana was responsible for 61% of positive drug tests from January to May. That is 10,388 positive tests out of 16,984 total tests that include other substances. The FMCSA reports that 20,678 drug violations were reported to the Clearinghouse – this included knowledge reports, drug test refusals, and positive drug tests.
MORE Act for Truck Drivers
A bill was passed for the first time that would decriminalize marijuana at the Federal level. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat states “Millions of Americans’ lives have been upended because of convictions for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and the racial disparities in conviction rates for these offenses are as shocking as they are unjust. That’s why we passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act.”
Passing the MORE Act would remove cannabis from the Schedule of Controlled Substances. However, there is still the language that would all Federal agencies require testing for “safety-sensitive” transportation working for Marijuana.
You can find more about MORE Act here.