If you drive among trucks on Colorado roads and highways, you may feel some comfort in knowing that truck drivers receive comprehensive training for the difficult work of handling an enormous and dangerous rig. You may also assume that those who employ drivers for their trucking companies have a rigorous testing and screening process before hiring anyone to operate their vehicles.

While it is true that the government requires applicants for trucking jobs to undergo drug testing, you may be shocked to learn how unreliable those tests can be. In fact, a recent study revealed the fatal flaws in the government’s standards for drug testing truckers.

Flawed testing

Safety advocates, including the Alliance for Driver Safety and Security, have long been trying to convince Congress to include hair analysis to test truckers for illicit drugs. Currently, the government requires only a urine test, but the Trucking Alliance feels this is not accurate enough. To prove its point, the Alliance conducted a study on almost 152,000 applicants for open truck driver positions.

They tested the group using both urine and hair analyses. Fortunately, about 94% of the applicants passed both tests. However, this left 6% who did not. The shocking news is that only 949 of those truckers failed the urinalysis. When subjected to the hair analysis, almost 9,000 failed. In fact, 90% of those who failed the hair test had passed the urine test. The urine test missed the presence of drugs like cocaine, marijuana and opioids in the systems of thousands of would-be truckers.

What does this mean for you?

The Trucking Alliance believes that their sample study indicates the potential for over 300,000 truckers on the road right now who may be under the influence of dangerous drugs. This means you may be sharing the road with drivers who have no business behind the wheels of big rigs. Until the government speeds up approval of hair analysis, you and your family are at the mercy of the ineffective urine test, which is likely a factor in the approval of countless unfit drivers.

An accident involving a tractor-trailer or other large commercial vehicle often means catastrophic injuries and even death. A fully loaded truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, and it can be challenging to control and stop under ideal circumstances. When a truck driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol, it may increase the chances that you or your loved ones may suffer a life-changing tragedy.