FMCSA to Keep Random Drug Testing Level at 50% in 2015

TT file photo

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that the trucking industry will have to continue randomly testing at least 50% of its drivers for drug and alcohol use during 2015.

FMCSA made the announcement Dec. 31, saying that its decision to keep the 50% requirement was based on “the data from motor carrier industry-controlled substance lab test results, the 2012 drug and alcohol testing survey and additional investigations.”

The trucking industry was hoping the agency would lower the mandatory 50% to 25%, as is the case for other transportation sectors, such as marine and public transit.

American Trucking Associations Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki called the announcement disappointing, especially because "the trucking industry met the incentive-based rate reduction criteria in FMCSA's own regulations. And, the information and other data cited in FMCSA's statement on this issue raises a whole host of questions concerning the basis for the random rate decision."

"We will dig a whole lot deeper on this issue with FMCSA early in the new year to get to the bottom of the Department's decision-making," Osiecki added.

FMCSA said positive test rates following an initial positive result increased by 4.1% from 2011 to 2012.

The agency also said, “Reasonable-suspicion positive test rates continued to rise sharply from 5.6% in 2010, to 15.7% in 2011 and 37.2% in 2012, marking a five-fold increase over the three-year period.”

In addition, the agency said, “The rate of total positive drug test results reported to DOT from independent Health and Human Services-certified laboratories increased from 95,427 positives in 2011 to 97,332 positives in 2012.

“FMCSA-regulated industries comprise approximately 80% of the reported tests,” the agency said of the truck and bus companies it regulates.

“Serious controlled-substance and alcohol-testing violations were identified in 24% of recent compliance investigations; and a two-week 2014 strike force focusing on the identification of drivers who tested positive resulted in 205 driver-enforcement cases, and 138 enforcement cases against carriers for violations relating to drivers with positive test results operating a commercial motor vehicle,” FMCSA said.

“These include drivers operating passenger carrying vehicles and transporting hazardous materials,” the agency added.

While results for FMCSA’s 2012 testing survey of approximately 2,000 carriers indicate that positive random drug-testing results are down for a second year, “the agency is committed to seeking additional information related to driver test rates and will continue to monitor industry testing programs before re-evaluating the controlled substances random test rate for 2016,” FMCSA said.