ATA calls for performance-based requirements for drug tests

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 31) Ð The American Trucking Associations has asked the head of the U.S. anti-drug program to endorse fewer random drug testing for truck drivers who work for companies where positive tests are less frequent.

ATA, a Virginia-based lobby group representing trucking companies, is trying to build support for basing a companyÕs random drug testing rate on its individual record of compliance rather than on industry-wide standards, according to a report in the associationÕs newspaper, Transport Topics.

“This regulatory approach is intended to motivate ÔgoodÕ companies to pressure ÔbadÕ companies to improve,” ATA President Walter B. McCormick Jr. wrote in a Dec. 16 letter to Gen. Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the report said.

Any motor carrier that operates in the U.S. — including Canadian companies — must randomly test half its drivers each year. Regulations allow the U.S. Federal Highway Administration to reduce the random testing rate to 25% if the industry-wide violation rate is below 1% for two consecutive years. The 1997 industry-wide violation rate was 2.2 %, down from 2.8% in 1996.

McCormick suggested that a company-based performance approach would provide a better incentive for motor carriers to be more diligent in their safety efforts in order to reduce their own positive rates. Currently, companies with low violation rates spend valuable safety resources on potentially excessive random testing and have little incentive to improve their own violation rates, he said.

The association plans to petition the FHWA to conduct a pilot study on the proposal.

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