By Adam Danielson, Director of Business Development, SuperVision
Excessive drug and alcohol use in the U.S. negatively impacts almost every aspect of our society and economy. And the trucking industry is no exception, where positive drug test results are rising. In the first three months of 2023, truck drivers testing positive for marijuana increased by 9.2%. Also, many of these drivers have not enrolled in the return-to-work program. This troubling data from the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse defines the significant challenges this problem puts on fleet management.
However, there are ways of dealing with drivers testing positive for marijuana. One of the most effective ways is proactive monitoring. In this article, you will learn more about this issue and how preventative fleet monitoring with SuperVision can help protect your fleet from the increasing drug and alcohol challenge.
What’s Happening with Drugs and Alcohol in Trucking
The Federal Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is an online database. It provides real-time information about CDL driver drug and alcohol violations to government agencies and employers. Since its launch in January 2021, the Clearinghouse has recorded 110,856 positive drug tests by drivers.
The Clearinghouse data also shows 129,100 drivers are still on prohibited status since testing positive on tests administered by the Department of Transportation for 14 different types of drugs. But even more concerning is 97,833 banned drivers have not started the return-to-work program, although 19,413 are presently eligible for retesting.
With 101,512 positive drug test results over the past three years, marijuana represents the most problematic drug among truck drivers. Cocaine is a distant second, with 27,658 positive tests in the same period. And amphetamines and oxymorphone are close behind cocaine with 15,838 and 15,206 positive tests, respectively.
Marijuana use is also a problem in the general U.S. workforce. According to Quest Diagnostics, urine test positivity rates for marijuana in the U.S. increased 4.3% in 2022 and 3.9% in 2021. Amphetamines came the closest to marijuana in positive results, with a 1.5% increase in 2022 and 1.3% in 2021.
However, the most alarming statistic comes from the Transportation and Warehousing industry. Positive results in this sector increased by 39% from 2018 to 2022.
Why This Matters
Driver safety and the safety of others is a top priority in the trucking industry. And the consequences of impaired driving can be tragic and expensive. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana. It can severely impair a driver’s ability to drive safely by slowing reaction time, fogging memory, and impairing coordination. So, the growing trend of recreational use of marijuana is concerning, especially when several large-scale studies point to a connection between the rise in cannabis use and increased traffic accidents.
In 2020, The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released study results on the connection between the passage of Washington State Initiative 502 (I-502) and fatal automobile crashes in Washington. Passed on Dec 6, 2012, I-502 legalized the recreational use and possession of small amounts of cannabis by adults 21 or older in Washington.
The AAA study approximated that the percentage of fatal car crashes involving THC-positive drivers doubled since the passage of I-502. And about 21% of all Washington State drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017 were THC-positive. Also, the Quest data strongly supports the contention that a rise in marijuana use increases the risk of workplace injuries among drivers and other fleet employees.
Further, the large number of commercial truck drivers on the prohibited list is a critical contributing factor to the truck driver shortage of about 78,000 drivers. Although other contributing factors exist, the rising number of potential and current drivers testing positive for marijuana adds to a driver deficit estimated to reach 160,000 by 2030. And filling the vacancies gets even more challenging as fewer drivers on prohibited status take steps to return to work.
How SuperVision Can Help
Fortunately, you can begin protecting your fleet from the risks associated with driver marijuana use with the SuperVision clearinghouse monitoring solution. It lets you deal with potential driver issues before they become severe liabilities.
You can only get Clearinghouse Monitoring through SuperVision. Its powerful features allow you to:
- Conduct daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly queries to the Drug & Clearinghouse for your active CDL drivers.
- Minimize liability risk by finding issues before the mandatory annual pull
- Use timely query alert notifications in your License Monitoring dashboard to address drug use issues before they get out of hand with counseling and education
- Setup immediately by integrating your existing driver roster
- Quickly retrieve driver-related documents from a single secure location
The Best Response to Drug and Alcohol-related Challenges in Fleet Management
The challenges in fleet management today require rapid response and seamless coordination to minimize risks. And the trend of truck drivers testing positive for marijuana and other drugs is a particularly demanding challenge. Impaired driving significantly threatens drivers and public safety, driver retention, and fleet operations.
To protect your fleet from the consequences of a growing drug culture, your best defense is constant drug and alcohol clearinghouse monitoring of active CDL drivers, provided by SuperVision. Visit us for more information.