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Why Random Drug Testing Is More Important Than You Think

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Random drug and alcohol testing is a common practice in the business world. Companies test prospective employees, as well as their current, to ensure top-notch performance. It’s no different in the trucking industry.

In 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced their continued requirement of randomly testing at least 50% of truck drivers for drug and alcohol use throughout 2015. The established 50% mandatory rate stems from the FMCSA’s 2012 Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey that showed an increase in positive results since implementing the percentage.  

Although some carriers and drivers may frown upon being subjected to random tests of any kind, mandatory drug and alcohol testing has additional incentives, mainly in cost savings and safety benefits for businesses.

How Does Random Testing Benefit the Trucking Industry?

Since the FMCSA declared the obligatory stipulation, the percentage of positive test rate results based on “reasonable suspicion” claims (a legal standard by which a manager has the right to test an employee due to suspicion of criminal activity) has steadily increased since 2010 from 5.6% to 37.2% in 2012, according to the FMCSA survey.

The increase in positive results can only mean that the random testing works to spotlight the issue, encouraging drivers, and carriers, to advocate for a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle for increased safety on the roads. A clean driver and CSA record can go a long way in bottom-line rewards.

Company Insurance Rates

As part of its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program and Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), the FMCSA makes it an issue to measure anything from unsafe driving to driver fitness to controlled substance and alcohol use. The higher the fleet's score, the worse the performance. Failing in any one of these categories affects a carrier’s overall CSA score, including their credibility, which can deter favorable results when acquiring insurance for their fleet.

The way it works is when insurance companies examine a business’ CSA score, the scoring factors into the insurance company’s decision of increasing the carrier’s rate or not. If CSA BASICs scores are substandard, a carrier’s insurance premium may spike to costly proportions. Not all insurance companies use this business practice, since it’s not mandatory; however, it’s being used more frequently as a means to identify risky carriers.

Make or Break Your Business

You can tell a lot about a business by their employees. Consequently, when the FMCSA randomly tests 50% of truck drivers for drug and alcohol use, managers will be able to distinguish the “good drivers” from the “bad drivers,” effectively filtering out and determining weak links. Trucking companies are as credible as their workforce, so employing the best is important.

Fleet Safety

Drug and alcohol assessments can reassure managers that their businesses are being represented as dependable and trustworthy companies by their good drivers through safe driving. Companies can rest assured that drivers will arrive safe and on time to customer sites, reducing the likelihood of lost or damaged cargo.

Ways to Ensure a Low CSA Score

While FMCSA’s drug and alcohol tests are important to maintain an efficient and safe fleet, there are additional ways to increase driver and vehicle safety, and maintain a low CSA score. Cloud-based GPS fleet tracking solutions combine real-time locations and add-on features like fleet safety analytics that provide vital safety data, such as the number of unsafe driving events per vehicle, subsequently helping managers note when their drivers practice unsafe habits during the workday. Driving activity and behavior is tracked through key metrics, such as harsh braking, harsh acceleration, stop sign violations and speeding.

This actionable vehicle data is showcased on data-rich dashboards that can be used to drill down into specific safety events—to view when they took place and where—as well as note the best and worst drivers within a fleet. Additional safety analytics features include the ability to replay unsafe driving events as they happened in real time, enabling managers to improve coaching and driver training and reduce the number of dangerous incidents significantly. 

Ultimately, random drug and alcohol testing may seem like a nuisance for the trucking industry. But once you take into account the importance in keeping a strong fleet and good CSA scores with supplemental fleet management tools like safety analytics, mandatory testing proves helpful in paving the way for improved business standards and driver awareness.


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