ATA wants national data for positive drug tests
Aug 6, 2007 4:22 PM
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) is lobbying for a federally-funded clearinghouse that would contain the results of truck drivers' positive drug and alcohol testing, according to ATA information.
Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer, said a clearinghouse would improve the industry's ability to keep alcohol and drug abusers off the road, and improve safety on the nation's roadways. The clearinghouse would enable carriers to be aware of previous positive test results, which the carriers could consider during the driver hiring process.
ATA said it has lobbied for a national clearinghouse of positive test results since the 1990s. In 2004 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported to Congress on the merits of reporting positive test results to states. Currently, five states have instituted a drug and alcohol clearinghouse.
"ATA and its members believe that state-based reporting efforts are a good first step, but the optimal solution is a national clearinghouse," said Graves. "The trucking industry is a national industry. State by state action will result in a patchwork quilt of differing reporting requirements by different people, with different commercial driver licensing actions or outcomes for truck drivers, depending upon which state issued their license."
ATA said the Federal government required drug and alcohol testing of commercial truck drivers in 1995. As measured by a percentage of positive test results, drug abuse in the trucking industry is less than half of that found in the general work force. However, the percentage has remained between 2 percent and 2.5 percent of the truck driver population since required testing began. "This figure is unacceptable to ATA and the trucking industry," ATA said.
ATA estimates there are 3.4 million drivers, and that includes many more drivers than Class 8 tractor-trailer drivers. It includes anything over 10,000 pounds. ATA points out that the test failure number also includes drivers who refuse a test because a refusal is counted as a test failure. Failing the drug test typically indicates that drivers have consumed drugs sometime in the previous 20 to 30 days.
(If 2 percent to 2.5 percent of the 3.4 million drivers test positive annually, that means that there are 68,000 to 85,000 that either fail the test or refuse to take it.)
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