Thursday, November 8, 2007

Comment Regarding GAO Report

Originally Posted on Thu, Nov 08 2007 @ 10:05 PM [EST]

About a week ago (10/31/07), I posted an article from titled 'GAO: Easy to cheat on trucker drug tests'. You can find my post here:

If you choose not to read the earlier post, you can find the MSNBC article at:

I originally posted this article with no real comments from me. A few days later, I edited the post to add a few comments from me. Well, I should have posted those comments and more when I posted the article. I found the article interesting and I hoped to solicit comments from the drivers out there. Having a laps in mental capacity, I forgot to even state this. So, what I have now done is looked closer into this. Now, I'm by no means an expert on this (or anything else trucking related) so please, read the information provided by the DOT and FMCSA. It is every driver's and carrier's responsibility to be informed about the regulations that govern the motor carrier industry.

A comment from my fellow blogger, VM, says it best about this article:

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 tomorrow and they'd say "VM go get a drug test" I never know when it's coming it's a lottery type thing. My CDL isn't worth getting high it's my bread and butter. What am I going to do if that's pulled?..Dispatch Full-time? Man that would suck..I do it part
time now and that's a headache.

I agree with VM's comment. The article just paints a picture of truck drivers as a bunch of drugged up people just waiting to have an accident. I completely disagree with this article. I do not worry that the truckers out there are on drugs, I worry that they are tired because of the problems with the industry, but that is another issue entirely and I won't go into it now.

Since the article leaves out a lot of information (where the sites were located, why they were chosen, etc.), below are two links to the actual reports the GAO released based on statements of Gregory D. Kutz and Katherine Siggerud.

Statement of Gregory D. Kutz
Managing Director Forensic Audits and Special Investigations [PDF]

Statement of Katherine Siggerud
Director Physical Infrastructure Issues [PDF]

I've read both of these documents and I found them interesting. I recommend that all drivers and carriers read these documents. They give some insight into the drug testing requirements. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there is a lack of information and misunderstanding about the regulations involving drug testing. I've also listed some information links on the subject of drug and alcohol testing from the FMCSA and DOT web sites at the bottom of this post.

The reports do show that there are problems with the agencies responsible for collecting the urine samples. This does need to be fixed because these sites are responsible for collections for any DOT required testing as well as other industries.

Another problem is that currently, drug testing laboratories are only authorized, not required, to perform validity testing for all DOT required commercial motor carrier drug tests. This validity testing would detect if adulterants such as drug-masking products and synthetic urine were used. Drug-masking products are widely available via the internet and certain magazines. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is aware of these products and revised the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs in 2004 to require that specimen validity tests be conducted on all urine specimens. The DOT did not adopt this update in their regulations so drug testing laboratories are only authorized, not required, to perform validity testing.

Yet another problem:

According to FMCSA data, more than 70 percent of compliance reviews conducted
since 2001 and more than 40 percent of safety audits conducted since 2003 found
violations of drug testing regulations, including finding that the carrier had
no drug testing program at all1.
1 FMCSA data used in this statement include
information from compliance reviews and new entrant safety audits conducted
through September 21, 2007.

These issues must be fixed. Drug testing not only helps to find the guilty and to deter the use of illegal drugs, they also prove innocents.


I found this to be interesting and to be what I would have expected.

Commercial motor carriers2 account for less than 5 percent of all highway
crashes, but these crashes result in about 13 percent of all highway deaths, or
about 5,500 of the approximately 43,000 highway fatalities that occur nationwide
annually. A DOT study on the factors associated with large truck crashes finds
that vehicle factors, such as brake problems, and behavioral factors, such as
speeding and driver fatigue, are some of the most frequently cited factors
involved in large truck crashes.3 While illegal drug use is not among the most
frequently cited factors in the DOT study-appearing as an associated factor in
only 2 percent of the crashes included in the study-it is clear that the use of
illegal drugs, such as marijuana, heroin, or cocaine, can severely impair the
ability of individuals to drive.

2 There are approximately 711,000 commercial motor carriers registered in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). This includes an unidentified number of carriers that are registered but are no longer in business. MCMIS contains information on the safety fitness of commercial motor carrier and hazardous materials shippers subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and the Hazardous Materials Regulations.

3 DOT, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Analysis Division, Large Truck Crash Causation Study, Publication No: FMCSA-RRA-07-017 (July 2007).

One of the major problems with the industry is "IMAGE". Sheryl Youngblood, Ph.D. (a.k.a. truckerdoc) describes it best on her web site ( (11/05/07)

Fact. The research and other indicators show that only about 12% of the drivers are making it difficult for the others. So why does it seem that the industry is being over-run by drivers who don't care? There are several factors that contribute to this perception.

1. In a population of 3.6 million drivers, 12% will be highly visible. You will see part of that 12% every day.

2. As humans, we pay more attention to the negative events in life - things that might hurt or destroy us.

3. We are also programmed to remember the negative events more than the positive.

4. Constantly repeating the belief that good drivers are in short supply only reinforces the fallacy. If something is stated often enough, it becomes a reality in people's minds.

5. People use the confirmation bias. Once they believe something, they look for evidence that supports their belief and disregard events and information that don't support it.

6. We get what we expect. Quantum physics and psychological research have clearly demonstrated that expectations actually cause events and behavior to occur. We have amazing power; people will conform to our expectations of them.

7. Good drivers aren't talking to and supporting each other enough. I wish I had a dime for every time drivers told me that they don't listen to the CB anymore because of all the nonsense they hear. Knights of the Road have relinquished the airwaves to the vocal minority. If the drivers who are doing "good work" don't speak up, it gives the appearance that they don't exist.

What can you do?

1. It is important to actively seek out other Knights of the Road, such as yourself and
support each other. There are more of you than there are of them.

2. Take back your Road; Take back your CB.

3. Train yourself to look for the positive in events.

4. Expect the best in other drivers. Most of the time you will get it.

5. Mentor the new drivers. There are a lot of good ones out there who need your help and encouragement and want to be part of the comraderie.

Informational Links:

Federal Alcohol and Drug Testing Requirements Brochure

What Employees need to know about DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing [PDF]

Overview of Drug and Alcohol Testing Rules


Frequently Asked Questions

Implementation Guidelines for Alcohol and Drug Regulations

Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs

A BIG thanks to VM and TruckerDoc!!!!


Man, did I ever tell you that you got a brain?..Bravo on the presentation!!! Thank you for the backup...VM-out!
Comment By: VM on Sat, Nov 10 2007 @ 5:54 AM [EST]

I would also like to thank TruckerDoc for her support of drivers..I think a lot of people get turned off by me because I post whatever I feel. Sometimes I need to vent and that comes across pretty negative. But, I consider myself a friend who'd take the shirt off his back to help someone. So don't buy the idea that VM thinks himself as a big hardass. Actually I'm a big softy with most people but I'm no pushover either...VM-out!
Comment By: VM on Sat, Nov 10 2007 @ 8:16 AM [EST]

Thanks VM. I know your put up the big hardass front then you probably cry watching "Steal Magnolia" lol -TTB
Comment By: Truckin Tedybehr on Sat, Nov 10 2007 @ 5:41 PM [EST]

Yes, like today I went to a driver I dispatch house and fixed his computer for FREE..He's a good man but bad with computers so I helped him out I like helping people out..So I am a big softy and like helping people out..Whats wrong with that?..By the way I do have a dark side and when I smell blood I am like a shark I don't stop..So I am a true 2 for the price of 1 Gemini..VM-out!
Comment By: VM on Sun, Nov 11 2007 @ 3:19 AM [EST]

I bet having a split personality makes it more interesting when you talk to yourself. -TTB
Comment By: Truckin Tedybehr on Mon, Nov 12 2007 @ 7:16 PM [EST]

I do..I have to actually stop myself from blurting crazy things aloud...VM-out!
Comment By: VM on Thu, Nov 15 2007 @ 5:03 AM [EST]

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