During a major meeting between trucking industry stakeholders and Congress today, a group comprised of multiple mega-carriers told lawmakers that they have evidence that thousands of truck drivers are “manipulating” drug testing protocols and should be removed from the nation’s highways.
On Wednesday, June 12, numerous trucking industry groups met with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for a hearing called “Under Pressure: The State of Trucking in America.” Groups like the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) were in attendance at the hearing.
One of these groups, the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (more commonly known as the Trucking Alliance) told lawmakers that they believe that “thousands of commercial truck drivers are illicit drug users” and that they have the drug testing data to back up their claims.
The Trucking Alliance issued a statement to accompany their testimony to Congress, which reads in part:
The Trucking Alliance recently submitted data to USDOT, showing compelling evidence that thousands of habitual drug users are manipulating federal drug test protocols and obtaining jobs as commercial truck drivers.
This survey data compared the pre-employment drug test results of 151,662 truck driver applicants, who were asked to submit to two drug tests – a urinalysis and a hair analysis. Almost all applicants held an active commercial driver license. Ninety-four percent (94%) of the truck driver applicants tested drug-free. However, thousands of applicants failed either or both drug tests.
Alarmingly, the urinalysis, the only method recognized by USDOT, and relied on by almost all trucking company employers, actually failed to identify most drug abusers. The urinalysis detected drugs in 949 applicants, about 1% of the population. However, 8.6%, or 8,878 truck driver applicants, either failed or refused the hair test. Put another way, the urinalysis missed 9 out of 10 actual illicit drug users. The most prevalent drug was cocaine, followed by opioids and marijuana. Applicants who failed or refused the hair test were disqualified for employment at these companies, but likely obtained the same job elsewhere, at companies that administer only a urinalysis.
This survey is the first of its kind in the trucking industry. The results represent a statistically valid sample. According to the American Trucking Associations, there are 3.5 million commercial truck drivers. The survey can project with a 99% confidence level, and a margin of error of <1%, that 301,000 commercial truck drivers would fail or refuse a hair analysis today, for illegal drug use.
The survey results are compelling evidence that thousands of habitual drug users are skirting a system designed to prohibit drug use in transportation. Thousands of drug abusers are obtaining jobs as truck drivers, despite their drug use.
Based on the results of their findings, the Trucking Alliance recommended that more than 300,000 truck drivers be purged from the industry: “This survey can project as many as 301,000 commercial drivers would fail or refuse a hair test. These illicit drug users must be identified and taken out of commercial trucks and off the nation’s highways. The trucking industry has no greater safety issue, than to aggressively address illegal drug use among commercial truck drivers.”
The group is asking Congress to speed up hair-based drug testing guidelines that are currently under development by the Department of Health and Human Services so that they can be applied within the trucking industry.
The Trucking Alliance says that they are comprised of several of the largest carriers in the United States and that their member companies employ 82,000 professional drivers and logistics personnel.
You can view full video of the “Under Pressure: The State of Trucking in America” hearing below.