Impaired driving is a serious issue for commercial truck drivers. Alcohol and other illicit substances are a problem for all drivers, but the consequences can be particularly high when you’re driving a vehicle that is many tons heavier than the vehicles around it. Drug testing policies in the transportation industry have recently drawn criticism from all corners.
Testing for What and When
As state after state loosens or eliminates laws against marijuana use, employers are under increasing pressure to change their policies accordingly. At present, commercial truck drivers are drug tested using urinalysis.
Many in the industry argue that saliva-based testing is superior because marijuana use will show up in an oral test for a relatively short period of time. Urinalysis can, in some cases, detect marijuana use many days after the fact.
On the other end of the spectrum, some in the trucking industry are now pushing for hair screening as the go-to method for drug screening. Hair screening is more likely to reveal the presence of other drugs, including opioids, heroin and cocaine. It can reveal drug use going back three months.
An Interest in Safety
Impaired driving is unacceptable. Whether impairment is the result of alcohol consumption, marijuana use, or the use of a harder drug, an impaired truck driver is a massive danger to the public. The primary concern of any drug testing program is to find and stop drivers who are unfit to operate safely.
That said, it’s fair to question whether a truck driver using marijuana in a state where it’s legal to do so, two days before operating the truck, poses any danger. You can’t be pulled over for drunk driving because you had too much to drink two days before you drove.
Testing is about finding and stopping unsafe drivers. It’s not about policing legal decisions made by adults that had no bearing on their ability to operate a vehicle safely.
The Everpresent Driver Shortage
The truck driver shortage that has existed for years is a safety hazard of its own. Drivers are pushed too hard by employers who have nowhere else to turn. Overworked, overtired truck drivers are dangerous to the motoring public in much the same way as impaired drivers are. A testing policy that eliminates candidates for legal drug use outside of driving hours plays a part in keeping the pool of available drivers small.
Truck Accidents Require a Strong Legal Response
Drug testing is just one of the many complex issues affecting the trucking industry. Truck accidents often involve more complicated issues than other crashes. Every truck accident deserves the attention of an experienced lawyer.