Keep On Truckin’

If you have commercial truck drivers, make sure they know the rules regarding alcohol and drug use and testing.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) works to improve safety in commercial trucking. Regulations from FMCSA apply to safety-sensitive employees who operate commercial motor vehicles requiring a commercial driver’s license.

Examples of drivers and employers subject to these rules are:

  • Anyone who owns or leases commercial motor vehicles
  • Anyone who assigns drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles
  • Federal, state, and local governments
  • For-hire motor carriers that carry 16 passengers or more
  • Private motor carriers
  • Civic organizations (disabled veteran transport, Boy/Girl Scouts, etc.)
  • Churches

Give your applicable drivers this general overview of FMCSA regulations regarding alcohol:

  • Alcohol use is prohibited.
  • Because alcohol is a legal substance, the rules define specific alcohol-related conduct that is prohibited while you performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle.

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Prohibited conduct includes:

  • Using alcohol
  • Having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or greater as indicated by an alcohol breath test
  • Driving within 4 hours after using alcohol
  • Refusing to submit to an alcohol test
  • Using alcohol within 8 hours after an accident or until tested

Let these employees know that preemployment alcohol tests are permitted, but not required. However, required alcohol tests include:

  • Postaccident
    —Conducted after accidents for which drivers have been cited
    —After all fatal accidents
    —Must be conducted with 8 hours of the crash
  • Reasonable suspicion
    —After observation of behavior or appearance of alcohol misuse
  • Random
    —Unannounced, just before, during, or just after performance of safety-sensitive functions
  • Return-to-duty and follow-up
    —At least 6 tests in 12 months after return to duty

Also inform employees of the consequences of alcohol misuse:

  • Immediate removal from safety-sensitive functions
  • Return to safety-sensitive duties requires:
    —Evaluation by a substance abuse professional
    —Compliance with any alcohol treatment recommendations
  • 24-hour suspensions required for:
    —Any alcohol concentration (0.02 or greater) when tested just before, during, or just after performing safety-sensitive functions
    —Behavior or appearance suggesting alcohol misuse if a breath test cannot be administered

Also give your applicable drivers this general overview of FMCSA regulations regarding drugs.

Prohibited drug use includes:

  • Unauthorized use of controlled substances
  • Illicit use of drugs by safety-sensitive drivers on- or off-duty

Required drug testing is as follows:

  • Preemployment—Negative result required before a driver can perform a safety-sensitive function
  • Reasonable suspicion—as observed by a trained supervisor or employer
  • Postaccident—within 32 hours of a crash
    —For any accident with a fatality
    —Where the driver is cited for a moving violation in a crash that requires a vehicle to be towed
    —With an injury requiring medical attention away from the scene
  • Random—based on a scientifically valid method covering all drivers equally
  • Return-to-duty and follow-up

A medical review officer reviews the lab results as follows:

  • Positive results checked with driver for any legitimate medical use.
  • Legitimate use is reported to employer as negative test.

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After receiving a positive drug test review, the driver is removed from safety-sensitive duty. Returning to safety-sensitive duties requires:

  • Evaluation by a substance abuse professional
  • Completion of recommended rehabilitation
  • Negative result on a return-to-duty drug test
  • Follow-up testing to monitor continued abstinence

Why It Matters

  • Each year, there are over 5,000 fatal accidents involving medium- and heavyweight trucks in the United States, and 2% of truckers involved in fatal accidents had alcohol in their bodies.
  • DOT and  FMCSA believes that number is far too high.
  • Proper training in—and enforcement of—alcohol- and drug-use regulations can cut down on accidents and fatalities.

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