It’s no secret that truck drivers throughout the country have to be drug tested per Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. These regulations exist to make sure that workers and the public are safe by detecting employees who might be using drugs that could hinder their performance and make it unsafe for them to carry out their work duties.
As it specifically relates to drug testing, the method that is most commonly used is a urine test. Being impaired by drugs or alcohol while driving a truck can have serious consequences for not only drivers but for everyone on the road. That’s why these drug testing requirements are in place and are an important component of enforcing workplace safety programs that help prevent accidents caused by drug impairment.
What is the Department of Transportation Responsible For?
As the federal agency responsible for making sure the road remains a safe place for all drivers, the DOT has a huge responsibility. It achieves this through various enforcement arms and regulations with the overall goal of ensuring the safe, efficient movement of people and goods across the country’s transportation network.
Day-to-day, the agency has a number of different responsibilities, including:
- Setting safety standards
- Enforcing regulations
- Providing funding for infrastructure improvements
- Promoting innovation and technology development
- Conducting research to advance transportation systems
Among the most important regulations, the DOT has for ensuring driver safety are its drug and alcohol testing requirements. The program mandates drug testing for employees who perform safety-sensitive functions, including:
- Reasonable suspicion
- Random testing
- Follow-up testing
Not only does the program require testing, but it also requires that employers use approved testing laboratories and follow strict guidelines for collecting, testing, and reporting drug test results. The agency also requires employers to have written drug and alcohol testing policies and provide training for employees and supervisors on the dangers of drug and alcohol use in the workplace.
As for the methods of testing, the agency mandates that drivers and other safety-sensitive positions be subjected to a urine test to screen for drugs and alcohol.
What is the Procedure For a DOT-Compliant Drug Test?
In order for a drug test to be DOT-compliant, it has to follow proper procedures as laid out by DOT guidelines. This process involves several steps to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the testing process, which includes:
- Identification Verification – The employee must provide identification to confirm their identity and eligibility for testing.
- Collection of Urine Samples – The employee will be directed to a private bathroom or stall to provide a urine sample. The collector will observe the employee throughout the process to ensure that the sample is not tampered with.
- Split Sample – The employee’s urine sample is split into two separate containers (called “A” and “B” samples) to provide a backup in case of a disputed result.
- Chain of Custody – The collector seals and labels the urine samples and completes the Chain of Custody form to track the sample from collection to testing.
- Laboratory Testing – The samples are sent to a laboratory certified by the DOT for testing. The laboratory tests the “A” sample for the presence of drugs and, if positive, confirms the result with additional testing. If the “A” sample is positive, the “B” sample is also tested to confirm the result.
- Medical Review Officer (MRO) Review – If the laboratory confirms a positive drug test result, the MRO will review the result and the employee’s medical history to determine if there is a permissible medical explanation for the positive result. If there is no medical explanation, the MRO will report the result as positive to the employer.
- Employer Notification – The employer is notified of the drug test result and must follow specific DOT procedures to ensure that the employee is removed from safety-sensitive functions until they have successfully completed the return-to-duty process.
Following these steps ensures that the DOT drug testing program is compliant with regulations and helps maintain the safety of employees and the public in the transportation industry. While a urine test is the established testing method, it’s important to understand what exactly the DOT is looking for in samples.
What Does a DOT Drug Test Check For In a Urine Sample?
A DOT-compliant drug test is looking for the presence of certain illegal drugs that are in a driver’s system. Urine tests are typically an effective way to test for such substances, despite some limitations in terms of how long they stay in a person’s system. Specifically, a DOT drug test is looking for the following in a urine sample:
- Amphetamines – This includes drugs such as Adderall, Dexedrine, and Ritalin, which are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
- Cocaine – This includes drugs derived from the coca plant, and includes cocaine and crack cocaine.
- Opiates – This includes drugs such as codeine, morphine, and heroin.
- Phencyclidine (PCP) – This is a hallucinogenic drug that is also known as “angel dust.”
- Marijuana – This includes drugs derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana.
The DOT drug test also checks for alcohol, but this is done through a separate test. In addition to the urine test, some employers may also require a breath alcohol test or a blood alcohol test to detect the presence of alcohol in the system.
Keep Moving With Fleet Drug Testing
When you work in the transportation industry, staying on top of DOT regulations is a must. It’s crucial that your drivers are sober and drug-free, not only to comply with DOT regulations but also to ensure the safety of everyone on the road. That’s where Fleet Drug Testing comes in. Our comprehensive drug testing services are tailored specifically to the needs of the transportation industry, and our fast and accurate results will keep your fleet moving. Don’t let drug use compromise the integrity of your business or put anyone in harm’s way. Contact us today to get started and keep your business moving in the right direction.