The FMCSA floated the idea of relaxing random drug testing this week. As COVID-19 continues to spread, not all areas can comply with random testing requirements. Motor carriers will need to provide paper trails. But is the culture around drug testing changing in general? And can the FMCSA keep up?
FMCSA stands for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They aim to reduce risk in the trucking industry. Part of their plan has included random drug tests. But with the pandemic, trucking companies are in a Catch-22. Many testing facilities are closed.
Thus, those in viral hotspots may be able to bypass this requirement for the time being.
FMCSA Loosens Random Drug Testing Regulations, Asks for Documentation
The FMCSA has agreed it will be selective. Motor carrier employers located in areas where they can still legally and safely complete these random tests will have to continue to do so. The administration currently requires employers to test 50% of their drivers. 10% of that selection must be random. Additionally, all tests must be spread out evenly throughout the calendar year.
If COVID-19 renders tests impossible to complete, the employer must collect and keep written documentation of the specific reasons. I.E. If a testing facility is closed? That counts. But employers must prove they had no access. And they must also prove that they tried other testing options. Companies cannot simply ignore the rules.
If a company furloughs drivers, it must keep track of this as well. It could affect the percentage and number of expected tests. They may not prove able to spread out those tests evenly. A depleted workforce means lower testing numbers. For example, if they are staffed at 50% in March but 100% in September, their numbers will skew.
So the regulations haven’t been suspended, just adjusted. But should they continue to stand?
Drivers and Drugs
As states continue to legalize marijuana, the legislation around drug tests becomes tricky. A private company can, of course, refuse employment for a failed drug test. But modern times perhaps merit a discussion of whether recreational marijuana use is really all that immoral. Are safety concerns valid if drivers are not intoxicated on the job?
Recent studies suggest that some drivers put on probation are not returning to duty after failing substance tests. Is the culture around recreational pot use changing? Yes. And younger drivers may not view it as dangerous in the way that past rules have suggested it to be.