Truck driver alcohol and drug violations on the rise

The number of North American truck drivers failing alcohol and drug tests is on the rise when comparing March totals over the last three years.

Employers and medical review officers (MROs) reported 5,258 positive drug tests in March 2022, up from 4,723 during the same month a year earlier, and 4,234 during March 2020, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. Another 929 truck drivers refused drug tests this March, compared to 721 in March 2021, and 604 in March 2020.

Drug testing highway sign
(Photo: iStock)

In terms of alcohol-related violations, 88 failed tests included drivers with a blood alcohol content of 0.04 or greater, up from 82 in March 2021 and 53 in March 2020. Another 28 truck drivers refused alcohol-related tests, essentially matching the 32 reported in March 2021 and 29 in March 2020.

Marijuana remains the drug of choice among truck drivers who fail a screening. Marijuana metabolite has been identified in 10,276 failed drug tests since the clearinghouse was established in September 2019 — almost four times higher than tests that identified cocaine metabolite (2,696 tests), followed by methamphetamine (1,462) and amphetamine (1,418).

While Canada legalized recreational cannabis in October 2019, cross-border truck drivers are still governed by U.S. rules that prohibit cannabis under workplace drug testing programs.

Among the totals, 102 Canadian truck drivers recorded alcohol and drug testing violations in March, while 2,241 have recorded violations since the clearinghouse was established in September 2019.

Comparative data about Canadian drivers was not reported in previous years.