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FMCSA survey finds drug usage rate at 0.8 percent

Level remains below 1.0% cutoff for another year

Posted July 5, 2017

The rate of illicit drug use among commercial drivers continues to remain below the level that would require motor carriers to conduct more random testing, according to recent survey results.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that the positive drug usage rate for 2015 was 0.8 percent, reversing an upward trend that began in 2012.

The agency uses the annual survey results to determine the industry’s minimum random testing rate for the following year. If the estimated drug usage rate reaches 1.0 percent or more, then the minimum random drug testing rate will automatically jump to 50 percent for the following calendar year.

When the usage rate is less than 1.0 percent for at least two years running, the FMCSA is authorized to lower the annual random testing rate to 25 percent of drivers, like it did for the 2016-2017 calendar years.

The 2015 survey results are based on data submitted by 1,761 motor carriers representing over 515,000 truck and bus drivers.

The following tables reveal the latest data in comparison to the three prior years. The FMCSA cautions that precision levels for non-random test types are low, so differences from year to year are generally not statistically significant.

Positive drug testing rates, 2012–2015

Test Type 2015 2014 2013 2012
Random 0.8% 0.9% 0.7% 0.6%
Pre-employment 1.5% 1.3% 1.8% 1.3%
Post-accident 4.5% 1.5% 2.8% 1.3%

Positive alcohol testing rates, 2012–2015

Test Type 2015 2014 2013 2012
Random 0.08% 0.08% 0.09% 0.03%
Post-accident 1.8% 0.6% 0.1% 0.1%

Based on its survey results, the FMCSA estimates that one-third (33%) of motor carriers that should be performing random testing are not, although that represents just 2 percent of CDL drivers, since non-compliant carriers tend to be small.

Later this year, the DOT plans to add opioids to the list of drugs for which drivers are tested, a move that could result in a higher positive testing rate — and ultimately a higher minimum random testing rate — in the future.

Under 49 CFR Sec. 382.305, motor carriers must randomly test at least 25 percent of their drivers for drugs each year and 10 percent for alcohol. The rules apply to drivers operating vehicles that require a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Alcohol & Drugs DOT Compliance ManualJ. J. Keller® Alcohol & Drugs DOT Compliance Manual provides critical information on when and how to conduct DOT-required alcohol and drug tests..


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