Drug Testing in the Transportation Industry

To maintain high standards of safety and professionalism, commercial drivers are subject to federal regulations outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

One component of maintaining your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), is complying with the FMCSA’s drug testing regulations via your carrier or employer. Below is an overview of how and why carriers in the trucking industry may use drug and alcohol screening to ensure safety.

When Are Drivers Tested?

The federal government requires a driver test negative for drugs prior to employment. If a driver is involved in a certain type of accident, the carrier must screen the driver for drugs and alcohol. FMCSA requires random testing throughout the year and when a carrier has a reasonable suspicion that driver is using drugs or alcohol. If a driver tests positive or refuses testing, there are federal requirements for follow-up or return-to-duty tests.

What Substances Are Carriers Testing For?

In addition to alcohol, carriers are testing for the following controlled substances: marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and methamphetamines, and Phencyclidine.

How is Testing Conducted?

DOT offers this handbook to explain drug screening in more detail. Basically, when a driver is notified of testing, he or she must report immediately to the designated testing or collection site. The collector will perform a test or take a sample from the driver. Urine testing is used for detecting controlled substances, and breath and saliva swab tests are used to detect alcohol.

The test or sample will be analyzed in a lab and reviewed by a Medical Review Officer to ensure the results are accurate and the sample is not adulterated. The employee will receive their confidential results and have a 72-hour time frame to request that a sample be retested if necessary.

To learn more about the requirements for becoming a commercial truck driver, contact HDS Truck Driving Institute. We help drivers obtain their CDLs and prepare for a career in trucking. Contact our Phoenix location by calling (602) 484-7901 or our Tucson location at (520) 622-0419.

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