The latest federally conducted survey of trucking companies shows the industry's estimated drug use violation rate has been cut from 2.2 % to 1.3% of drivers tested — a 41% reduction from 1996 to 1997.
The new rate includes data from 1,294 randomly selected motor carriers with an estimated 112,730 drivers.
"Drug use in the trucking industry is well below the average for other industries and the general population," said Walter McCormick, president and CEO of the American Trucking Assns. "But we have to keep at it. The highway is our workplace, and we will continue working to making it drug-free and safer for our drivers and for the motorists and families with whom we share the road."
For the second year in a row, the study also showed that the alcohol use violation rate remained at a low rate of 0.2% of drivers tested randomly. Citing this low violation rate, the Department of Transportation's Office of Motor Carrier & Highway Safety last year lowered the trucking industry's minimum annual random alcohol testing rate from 25% to 10% of its drivers.
All motor carriers who employ drivers with a commercial driver's license are required to have comprehensive in-house drug and alcohol testing programs. They must randomly test 10% of their CDL drivers for alcohol and 50% of their CDL drivers for drugs each year. In addition, trucking companies conduct pre-employment, post-accident, reasonable-suspicion, return-to-duty and follow-up tests.
According to one of the largest U.S. drug testing laboratories, SmithKline Beecham, the 1997 positive random test rate for all federally mandated, safety-sensitive workers covered under workplace drug testing programs was 2.9%.
"This puts the trucking industry drug use rate at less than half that of other federally mandated, safety sensitive workers," McCormick said.