Thursday, November 1, 2007

GAO: Easy to cheat on trucker drug tests

Originally Posted on Thu, Nov 01 2007 @ 12:26 AM [EST]

Edited (11/08/07): After reading this post, please be sure to read my follow up post:

OK .. I just saw this headline story on (posted 10/31/07)

What's your opinion of this article? I think it is a bunch of crap. There are more people driving cars that are on drugs than there are truckers. You hear it all the time on the news where someone under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol are in an accident. The only good part about the article is that statement that the number of large-truck fatalities is down 5% last year - the largest decline in 4 years.

GAO: Easy to cheat on trucker drug tests
Three-quarters of testing sites don't provide secure conditions, report

By Lisa Myers and Richard Gardella
NBC News Investigative Unit

WASHINGTON - Undercover federal investigators discovered that it was surprisingly easy to cheat on random drug tests designed to catch truck drivers who use drugs, NBC News has learned.

Undercover investigators with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, used bogus truck driver's licenses to gain access to 24 drug-testing sites. They found that 75 percent "failed to restrict access to items that could be used to adulterate or dilute the [urine] specimen, meaning that running water, soap, or air freshener was available in the bathroom during the test."

The GAO team also bought drug-masking products over the Web
and was able to mix them with real specimens at the drug-testing sites "without being caught by site collectors," the agency said in a report scheduled to be made public Thursday.

Drug-screening labs never realized that there was a problem. "Every drug masking product went undetected by the drug screening labs," said the report, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News.

DOT cites drop in road deaths
A spokeswoman for the Transportation Department, which requires motor carriers to test their employees and sets the regulations for collections, said driver errors, not drug use, caused most accidents.

"Our efforts on this front have been critical in helping us reduce the
number of large truck fatalities by nearly 5 percent last year — the largest
decline in four years," said the spokeswoman, who spoke on condition of

But Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who asked GAO to investigate, said the report was "frankly astonishing and shocking and dismaying. You can manipulate the tests, you can mask substance abuse and go undetected on the roadways."

Oberstar, who planned to hold a hearing Thursday, said the drug-testing system was broken and was placing other drivers in danger.

"It fails, it is not sufficient, it is not protecting the public interest," he said.

How many are cheating?
The Transportation Department estimates that fewer than 2 percent of truck drivers test positive each year for controlled substances in random federal tests. But when Oregon law enforcement officials conducted their own random tests this year, 9 percent of truck drivers tested positive.

Dozens of products widely available on the Web are marketed to truckers as fail-safe ways to defeat the mandatory drug tests.

"My first reaction was total disbelief. I just felt sick," said Kathleen Ellsbury, whose husband, Tony Qamar, was killed two years ago when a truck driver in Washington state lost his load of logs on a curve, crushing Qamar's car. Also killed was Daniel Johnson, a fellow seismologist at the University of Washington.

Ellsbury learned later that the truck driver, who was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for vehicular homicide, had previously been convicted of possessing methamphetamines and that he had meth in his blood at the time of the crash.

"The system has big holes, let's say that," said Ellsbury, who said she had a message for truck drivers who might be tempted to cheat: "I'd like to be standing right outside the bathroom and hold up a picture of my husband — remind them there's consequences."

Truckers promise to do better Spokesmen for the trucking industry said truck drivers were among the safest drivers on the road, with much lower rates of drug use than the general population. Still, they said, having roughly 30,000 drivers
test positive each year was unacceptable.

The Transportation Department spokeswoman, while blaming "commercial and passenger driver errors" for most highway deaths, said the department was continuing to "work with our state law enforcement partners to aggressively ensure trucking companies comply with our regulations, including drug and alcohol enforcement."

"In 2006 alone, this combined federal and state effort led to more than 5,000 enforcement cases that resulted in more than $19 million in fines and 1,035 companies being taken out of service," she said.

Lisa Myers is chief investigative correspondent and Richard Gardella is an investigative producer for NBC News.

This report makes us look like a bunch of junkies. There are truck drivers that use drugs a very, very, small percentage I would say. I would dare to say that we are the most sober in contrast to other professions. Yes, you could use "Crank" to stay up for a week but you'd crash hard for two days not doing a damn thing so where would that get you?..I could walk into work tommorrow and they'd say "VM go get a drug test" I never know when its coming its a lottery type thing. My CDL isn't worth getting high its my bread and butter. What am I going to do if thats pulled?..Dispatch Full-time? Man that would suck..I do it part time now and thats a headache..TT don't listen to the media they don't know what they're talking about...VM-out!
Comment By: VM on Fri, Nov 02 2007 @ 6:39 AM [EST]

I've edited the post so it basically ask for everyone's oppinion. I think it is a bunch of BS. Why don't they enforce drug testing for car drivers? Yes, truckers are on the road more than the average driver but there are a lot of other people on the road all the time for work or commuting to work. Hell, a few years ago, my brother was turning onto the street he lives. A woman, decided to pass him on the left at the time he was turning left and hit him doing 55 mph. Luckily, no one was hurt (not even the 3 young kids that were unrestrained in the car). It turns out that she had had her license suspended, had no insurance and was under the influence of 5 different prescription meds that she shouldn't have been driving while taking.
Comment By: Truckin Tedybehr on Fri, Nov 02 2007 @ 1:20 PM [EST]

Well its just that I have a lot of pride in what I am doing. I sacrifice a lot for other peoples convienience. I miss holidays, I work goofy hours, and I miss much of my childrens youth. I do sacrifice a lot and to think its somehow its in vain makes me angry. Truckers do a lot of the dirty work that keeps our nation running so I get a bit defensive whenever people talk mess about our biz. So I take pride in being a trucker..VM-out!
Comment By: VM on Sat, Nov 03 2007 @ 8:09 AM [EST]

I just want you to know that I don't believe this crap. I believe that most truckers are going to take more pride in what they do then the average worker. They also have a lot more to lose by taking drugs than the average person. For the average worker, they may lose there job if caught but they can go find another job in the same field. A trucker not only loses his/her job, but his career because they will lose their CDL. No CDL, no trucking.
Comment By: Truckin Tedybehr on Sat, Nov 03 2007 @ 1:54 PM [EST]

Yes, thank you for undestanding and appreciation in the future if you want to continue to go on and be a trucker I'd gladly take you under my wing and show you the ropes. If you ever need any questions answered don't hesitate to ask I am here for you brother. The thing I like about this biz is that I had a lot of mentors in the past and still to this day show me the ins and outs of this business its kind of like a brotherhood. We don't have pieces of paper on the wall to show how smart we are. However, I still pull wisdom out of my elder drivers everyday. But, a piece of paper only shows what a good parrot you are. Being booksmart is fine to a point, but being wise is worth its weight in gold..VM-out!
Comment By: VM on Sun, Nov 04 2007 @ 3:22 AM [EST]

VM ... you don't know how much that really means to me. Thank you.
Comment By: Truckin Tedybehr on Sun, Nov 04 2007 @ 11:20 PM [EST]

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