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Driver issuesNewsTrucking Regulation

FMCSA increases random drug testing rate to 50%

Federal regulators surprised the trucking industry the day after Christmas by announcing an increase in the minimum annual rate for random drug testing from 25% to 50% of the average number of a carrier’s drivers.

The increase, made public by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in a federal notice on Dec. 26, begins on Jan. 1 and is in place for the 2020 calendar year. It was based on the results of 2018 FMCSA survey data revealing that the positive testing rate for controlled substances increased to 1%.

The agency estimates that by doubling the minimum random testing rate, the trucking industry will have to pay an additional $50 million to $70 million per year in drug testing costs.

“This data was collected in early 2019, and to my knowledge there has been no indication from FMCSA about the increase in positive tests that led to the minimum random testing rate change,” Dave Osiecki, president and CEO of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting, told FreightWaves. “Not only is it a financial hit that no one was expecting, it’s disappointing to know that more drivers are testing positive for using drugs.”

Osiecki pointed out that there will be a slight productivity impact as well because the process of pulling the driver off the road and getting to a testing site takes up time that could be used for moving loads.

A decision by the FMCSA to increase or decrease the percentage rate for randomly testing drivers for controlled substances is based on the trucking industry’s overall positive random controlled substance test rate as reported to the FMCSA by the carriers.

“When the minimum annual percentage rate for random controlled substances testing is 25%, and the data received under the reporting requirements for any calendar year indicate that the reported positive rate is equal to or greater than 1%, the FMCSA administrator will increase the minimum annual percentage rate for random controlled substances to 50% for all driver positions,” according to the agency.

For 2016 and 2017, the estimated positive usage rate for drugs was estimated to be 0.7% and 0.8%, respectively, FMCSA noted.

The agency explained that for the 2018 survey, forms were sent to 4,480 randomly selected motor carriers, and 1,908 of those were completed and returned. This resulted in usable data from 1,552 carriers (comprising of 300,635 drivers) for random controlled substance testing.

FMCSA estimates 3.2 million commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders operate in interstate commerce and 1 million CDL holders operate in intrastate commerce. “With this population … approximately 2.1 million random controlled substances tests will need to be conducted in calendar year 2020,” FMCSA stated.

The agency confirmed that the minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing will remain at 10%.

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John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.

52 Comments

    1. The increased rate at which drivers will be randomly tested for controlled substances by the FMCSA is due to an increased rate of drivers testing positive for a controlled substance by 1%. Random testing rate for alcohol will remain at 10%.

    1. H6 by God we drivers need a pat increase to 85 cpm minimum for interstate drivers. This Federal bullshit always going on. They better hurry and get their autonomous trucks up an running.

  1. Well look at how the new drivers see it and some of the older ones who use drugs….10hr mandatory break….” Ten hours I can sleep off a 12 pack of Budweiser…./ Ten hour for next shift….hell this weed buzz or meth buzz would be gone just in time.😂😂😂😂…This was bound to happen…Add frustration of eld …. traffic
    ..wrecks….road construction..and the most stupid fucking thing … mandatory 30 minute break at 8 hours of driving…News Flash trucking is a lifestyle not a cubicle job the eld has destroyed a middle class job …Now add in the mix self driving trucks and you have created an over already stressful and hostile work place…FMCSA should get off their asses and visit truck stops to see they have added to driver fatigue by forcing this eld bullshit…The eld should be a choice and used only for driver punishment 32 years experience no wrecks….one log book violation…Only school trucking companies should be on eld along with classic truck training 220 hours …There has been more wrecks in the last 3 years ….than our pass 27 years…Now wrap your mind around that fact🤯🤯🤯🤯Truly mind blowing.

    1. It’s not about safety I truly believe it’s all about control. If the government can take over the trucking industry they will move forward to other industries. Industries will be privately owned but government run. Everyone will make the same money. Rich will still be rich and so will the corrupt government.

      1. The increased controlled substance drug testing rate is due to national data collected in late 2019 which shows more drivers tested positive than the previous year. Government entities will continue to make new regulations if drivers insist on operating illegally. This didn’t just happen at random because the government wants “control” over the industry.

  2. .

    Good
    While the new drug testing may not catch all the bad drivers at least it will make a dent. Not just truck drivers but most including commuters need to be drug tested. Areas with the most accidents should be targeted

  3. Why can’t we all just unite and stand up for our rights. I do understand that most drugs don’t go with trucking and transportation. What needs to be done is drug testing for everyone that drives and or possess a driver’s license of any kind, fair is fair it’s all just another way to keep truckers under thumb

  4. Its time for truckers to stand up and say enough is enough since they want to make all these rules and regulations maybe they need to get off they lazy asses and drive these trucks they have no idea what a driver go though out there that’s why I quit driving and I always encourage truck drivers to find another career let them move they own fright or let the economy crash and let’s see how great America is then since they to stupid to keep up with the time and the government to stupid to change what need to be changed #getoutoftrucking #shutemdown start now let’s fight back against these stupidity.

  5. More rules and regulations costing more money to companies and in the end not making drivers safer at all.. truck drivers now are so different now than 5 years more aggressive more wrecks more violence it’s a friggin battle a war out on the road every day. I would love to see the study on the effects of the weekend alcoholics compared to the weekend hippy lettuce users on effects of safe driving come monday or everyday ..
    I’m so friggin sick an fricken tired of being married to this CDL 24-7 375.. not worth it anymore.

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